Former Huddersfield Town goalkeeper Alan Starling has been back to the Trust to thank our teams after a routine AAA (abdominal aortic aneurysm) scan saved his life.
He came in for the scan - now offered to all 65-year-olds - and after further investigations it was revealed he had THREE potentially life threatening aneurysms. Mr Starling, 65, underwent a six-hour operation at HRI and was left with a scar needing 56 staples. There were so many staples his family took a photo, and sent it to friends and family with a “guess the number” for £10 a go and raised an amazing amount of money for Ward 3 where he recovered after ICU.
Mr Starling, from Mount, a grandad of two, said: “Those 10 minutes at the screening check saved my life. I was looked after by a fantastic team of people. Everybody was amazing. If I hadn’t gone for my check - I would not be here now!
When Mr Starling first attended the screening, the main aneurysm was detected but it was a size which was borderline for the dangerous category. He then had an appointment to see vascular nurse specialist Kate Humphries. During a series of questions he told them he had back ache thinking it may have been the after effects of playing golf on a family holiday to celebrate his 65th birthday. This raised the concern that the aneurysm could be shortly starting to leak blood. He was referred to vascular surgeon consultant Mr Anver Mahomed and a CT scan detected the aneurysms.
“They came back and told me, you’re not going home,” said Mr Starling. “They had found three aneurysms and I needed an urgent operation so was admitted immediately.”
He was told about the risks of the complex surgery which could include amputation and an operation was scheduled without delay. His surgery was performed by Mr Mahomed and Mr Neeraj Bhasin. He spent two nights in intensive care before being moved onto Ward 3.
He added: “They told me they had to cut off the blood supply so amputation could be a risk. My wife Gill and my two wonderful daughters Natalie and Natasha had a very tense wait for over six hours for news that the operation had been a success.”
Mr Starling played for Town between 1976 and 1980 and made 112 appearances for them and considers himself having led a relatively fit lifestyle. “I had never really been unfit so I really would urge everybody to have their screening. I feel so lucky and if my story saves a life I will be delighted.
Alan is now very conscious of taking regular exercise, eating healthily, and enjoying life to the full. “The doctors said they are caused by smoking, stress or bad luck! It could be anything but I have changed my lifestyle and I am still here and playing golf again so I know I am back to normal. The team are absolutely amazing and I am very very lucky.”
Vascular nurse Kate Humphries, said: “I routinely see patient after they have been screened and found to have an aneurysm. Usually AAAs are symptom free and you would not know you had one but Mr Starling had been suffering from back pain which is not usual for him and it was sudden which made me feel it could be leaking. At this point it becomes time critical and a real emergency and we are delighted that Mr Starling is now back and well.
AAA Screening Technician, Samantha Bryant, said: “In the majority of cases the scans will be clear but, as in Mr Starling’s case, they may show an aneurysm and that could be potentially life threatening. It is important not to ignore your invitation to screening as a 10 minute scan could save life.”
Click the below attachment to see Alan when he played for Huddersfield Town, he's back row fourth from the left.