Belfast Telegraph

BBC broadcaster can hear his heart ticking after operation

By Michael Shiels McNamee

BBC NI presenter David Maxwell, who had surgery for a serious genetic condition, has revealed he has a permanent reminder of the life-saving treatment - being able to hear the sound of blood pumping through his heart.

In an interview on The Vinny Hurrell Show on Radio Ulster, The Gardeners' Corner host explained what he billed his "party piece".

As the microphone picked up a loud ticking sound, he explained: 'It sounds like a clock tick, tick, ticking away.

"It's the plastic valve but it's powered by my heart and when the blood flows through it, it ticks like a clock. That was one of the hardest things to get used to.

"I can hear that in my ears all the time and it took months, if not years, to begin to zone that out."

David was diagnosed with a serious condition in 2014 just as his career was blossoming and not long after he and his wife had bought a house with their first child on the way.

He first suspected something was wrong when he was at my sister's one day and he ran children around the garden in a wheelbarrow "a couple of times".

"You know yourself, that should not floor you. And it absolutely did."

After visiting the doctor and being told he had a heart murmur, he was sent for an electrocardiogram, which is used to monitor the rhythm and electrical activity of the organ to see if it is functioning normally.

David was shocked when he was given the news by a medic.

"He said to me, almost straight away, I'll never forget his words: 'You've got big problems, mate'."

"And I said: 'What do you mean?' He replied: 'Well, I can see that you have a faulty heart valve'."

He also told David he had an aneurysm, and David was quickly admitted to hospital. Asked by Hurrell if he thought he could die, he answered: "Yes, I did."

"We had also just bought a house two months before the diagnosis," he added. "The baby came in July after the diagnosis, and then the operation was in the autumn, later September/October."

The surgery required David to have his chest cut open, his lungs deflated and his heart switched off as he was hooked up to a bypass machine.

Mr Maxwell first talked about his health battle in an in-depth interview in the Belfast Telegraph earlier this year.

He has since made a full recovery, although his heart will be monitored and he will be on medication for the rest of his life.

Gardeners' Corner is broadcast on Radio Ulster at 9am on Saturday

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