Hello, my name is Jack, and I'm asking for your help and support to fund an operation to fix a large hole in my heart.
Please take 3 minutes and 50 seconds to read my story, and any support offered will make an impact on the £19,307.00 I have to save, sell and fundraise for. After a redundancy from COVID-19 in 2020, I am not in a position to pay for this myself, and I do not have anybody who would volunteer this value of money, so you and your support is the only chance I have of fixing it. The NHS will only fix it after I suffer from a stroke or heart attack, and not before. The operation will reduce my chance of stroke by a very worrying 80%.
In January 2021 I learned that I have Congenital Heart Disease, known as a "Hole In The Heart". This defect is one of the biggest known causes of stroke in young people, without any other underlying health issues. This type of stroke is caused by a blood clot finding its way into the arterial chamber of my heart, crossing over through the hole in the heart. For most people, the clot would disperse and break down in the veins, and never cause an issue. My danger is that a clot will be re pumped through my arteries, and go to the brain. The majority of those who learn they have this defect, only find out after they suffer from a stroke or heart attack, as it usually poses little or no symptoms. By having this operation, my chances of having a stroke are believed to be reduced by around 80%. However, for me, not only is the thought of stroke at any time debilitating in its own right, this defect has now put a stop to my life passion, and career as a scuba diver and instructor, as well as my ability to physically work hard due to the high risk of stroke.
I found out I had this defect when I suffered from what is commonly known as "the bends" after a deep, technical dive to 40m. The dive plan was calculated with minimal obligatory decompression (8 minutes), the dive profile was conservative and it was an all-round, controlled and safe dive with a slow ascent. After the dive, I noticed an unusual and large red rash around my stomach and ribs which later turned out to be a "skin bend". In divers, we take into our body abnormally high levels of Nitrogen which is from the compressed air we breathe, due to the pressure at depth. We follow strict procedures to "off-gas" the Nitrogen to prevent bubbles from forming in our blood and to prevent any form of decompression illness. However, due to my hole in the heart, the nitrogen is unable to escape my body and essentially gets re-circulated back around my system. The best-case scenario in this event is a skin bend, as those bubbles form under the skin, the worse case is a bubble finding its way to the brain, which leads to an aneurysm and potentially causes death, or at least catastrophic injury. So I was incredibly lucky to only suffer a minor bend.
Scuba diving is my sole passion in life. It's the only professional qualification I hold and I have invested thousands of pounds in my development as an instructor, equipment, and courses to extend my depth and range into deeper, technical and exploratory diving. I run a diving group known as Dive Instructor Jack, I am an instructor with two clubs and I am very proud to have been asked to join as a Regional Instructor for the British Sub Aqua Club. If I am not diving, I am thinking about diving or talking about diving to my friends. Being part of these groups and being able to teach and develop divers, from all backgrounds and levels is incredibly motivational for me, and it gives me a purpose in life. Being told that I can't do this anymore has caused me an incredible level of stress and anxiety and has made me generally sad and depressed at the prospect of having to give it up. In addition to this, now knowing that at any time I could suffer a stroke, from heavy lifting, or stressing my heart through movement or exercise feels incredibly debilitating and has made me feel somewhat worthless. Everything I know and have worked for the last 4 years has without my will, been taken from me. The only thing that would allow me to carry on diving is having this incredibly expensive heart surgery paid for.
As an ex-Community First Responder for South West Ambulance, I have seen first hand the life-changing effects of stroke, and the thought of having one, then living the rest of my life unable to do many "normal" things I love, is petrifying. The worst part of all this is knowing that I have this defect, and I just have to wait for a stroke to happen to have it fixed by the NHS. In truth, life would be easier if I didn't know about it, as the anxiety wouldn't have reason to exist.
I appreciate your support in advance, and if you can, please forward and send this to your friends, families, and colleagues to help get me back in the water, teaching and educating, and having a purpose, and also reduce my chances of a stroke at a young age by 80%.
For those wanting to watch and learn more about what your donation will be paying for, you can follow this link:
I know this will take some time to gather the funds, but I know I have to start somewhere. So mote it be.
My Warmest Regards And Thanks,
- Stefan Edwards
- Katrina Michel
- Jason John
- John Floyd
Fundraising team (2)
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