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DJ Ivan Martin faces heart op after routine scan shows up problem

By Lisa Smyth

Published 30/05/2016

Ivan Martin with wife Suzanne
Ivan Martin with wife Suzanne
Proud dad: Ivan and his son James
Ivan Martin

Broadcaster Ivan Martin is facing life-saving open heart surgery after a problem was picked up during a routine scan.

Surgeons have told the 64-year-old dad of two he will be in theatre for six hours as they replace the valve in his aorta - which controls the flow of blood out from the heart to the rest of the body - with a bovine replacement valve.

The surgery is due to be carried out in the next week by consultant cardiac surgeon Chris Austin at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

But the veteran U105 radio presenter has vowed to be back on air in time for the start of the new football season in August.

He said: "I've been feeling fine, I haven't had any breathlessness, no difficulties carrying on with normal life.

"In fact, I was actually going to the gym three times a week.

"It certainly concentrates the mind when you're told you need to have open heart surgery.

"Basically, what has happened is that one of the major valves in the heart has hardened over the years and isn't working as well as it should and I am now in a situation where I need to have it replaced.

"They want to do it now rather than wait until something terrible happens.

"I don't really know what will happen if I don't have the operation.

"I don't really want to go down that road, but I presume the alternative is that I would ultimately die. It's a no-brainer as far as I am concerned, it's something I have to go through but I'm encouraged by what they tell me.

"I'm looking forward to being back on the radio again for the start of the new football season to resume my work."

Ivan, dad to 24-year-old James and 21-year-old Daniel, was told he needed to have the surgery several months ago and is now waiting for the green light for the operation to go ahead.

The procedure involves removing a faulty or damaged valve and replacing it with a new one made from synthetic materials or animal tissue.

In Ivan's case, the new valve will be harvested from cow heart sac, which is treated and neutralised to stop the body rejecting the tissue.

During the procedure, Ivan's heart will be stopped and a heart-lung bypass machine will be used to take over the job of his heart for the duration of the operation.

Ivan said the surgery will probably prove to be more traumatic to his sons and wife of 24 years, Suzanne.

"I'm trying not to think too much about it, but it might be a different matter for my family," he said.

"I won't really know a lot about it, I will be under general anaesthetic, I am just looking forward to waking up in ICU and establishing I'm in the Royal and not in Heaven!

"It's my family who will have the waiting to do although they will probably go about their day and I imagine Chris will ring Suzanne once it is all over.

"I still have a great deal of living left to do and this is just something I have to do." Ivan also explained that son James, who has Down's syndrome, is fully aware of the ordeal facing his father.

"James has three jobs," he continued.

"He is a perfectly normal member of society except he has an extra chromosome.

"The whole family is aware of what is ahead but, like me, they have complete faith in the team at the Royal and we're happy they will be looking after me."

He also said he has been overwhelmed by the response since news of his impending surgery was made public.

He added: "This is a big operation but they do a lot of these at the Royal, and that is very reassuring."

Belfast Telegraph

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