Former karate instructor Adrian Spencer went from not being able to walk to having a quadruple heart bypass, thanks to an MRI scan. As a new MRI scanner fund hits the million-pound mark, ahead of a Norfolk Heart Trust auction, Adrian explains how his life has changed for the better
Before Adrian Spencer was diagnosed with heart failure, thanks in no small part to an MRI scan, he was barely able to walk – which was a dramatic change in lifestyle for the qualified karate instructor who runs The Lowestoft Barbershop. Over the decades, the 62-year-old had enjoyed participating in not only karate but motor cross and American football as well. ‘I’d left an active life. I’ve always had a zest for life, hence participating in sports.’
But all that changed in 2017, when he started experiencing breathlessness. He went to the doctors and was diagnosed with asthma, incorrectly as it would turn out. Adrian recalls: ‘I couldn’t get upstairs let alone do anything else. I used to get to the bottom of the stairs and the stairs would look like Mount Everest to me. It would take me five minutes, at times 10 minutes, to get to the top. I couldn’t even walk out to the car and that was about 10 steps away.
‘After three years, I wasn’t getting any better. I took myself off to A&E and they did some tests, then I had a whole raft of diagnostic tests, including that MRI scan, and finally received a correct diagnosis of heart failure. They got a good look at what was going on with my heart.’
In 2021, at the age of 60, Adrian had a quadruple heart bypass at the Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge. ‘Four days later I was back at home.’
He is now living life to the full as much as possible and is back running his barbershop business, which he runs from his Lowestoft home. ‘When you get diagnosed – and fixed – it does change your life. It’s just an amazing thing – better than winning the lottery.’ His karate instructor days may be over, but, as he says: ‘That was one of my many jobs. I can lead a normal life, more or less.’
Adrian is happy to put his name to the ongoing fundraising campaign to raise £1.5m for a new MRI scanner at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. ‘You can see how important it is, as a diagnostic tool. It’s a vital piece of equipment. That MRI machine can give you your life back.’
Friends of a respected former consultant cardiologist at the NNUH, the late Dr Iain Brooksby, have just reached the million-pound mark in their quest to fund the scanner in his memory.
Many of the donations have come as a direct response to an extensive letter campaign by Jonathan Ellis, chairman of the Dr Iain Brooksby Memorial Event (IBME), who wanted to acknowledge the 30 years’ work of his late friend, the latter 10 years spent helping hundreds of people at the NNUH. He said he had been humbled and amazed by people’s extreme generosity and kindness and has personally written to each one to express his gratitude.
Other donations had come from fund-raising for the Magnetic Magnets 4 Hearts appeal on behalf of the Norfolk Heart Trust (NHT) which was established to fight cardiac disease and improve quality of life for patients.
Reaching the million-pound milestone also enables activation of pledges made by regional trusts and funders to push on nearer the £1.5m required for the dedicated state-of-the-art Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner for the cardiology department.
The news comes in the wake of confirmation that building of the new Diagnostic Centre at the NNUH will go ahead. Later this year the new equipment will be ordered for the sole use of the cardiology department, eliminating the need to share a scanner with other departments. The building is expected to open in Spring 2025.
Backed by NHS England, the scanner has a commitment from NNUH for installation, staffing, maintenance and future replacement programme.
Towards the end of August an online auction – comprising over 100 exclusive, not usually available, prestigious open golf days, sporting, art, European travel and accommodation lots – will be launched culminating in an auction dinner and golf day at and supported by Barnham Broom and R G Carter.
Bidding for the Norfolk Heart Trust Auction is open to anyone after August 25. The Norfolk Heart Trust Fund is managed by Norfolk Community Foundation (Registered Charity Number 1110817).To donate to the appeal please visit norfolkfoundation.com. For more information about the fund-raising and auction contact Jonathan Ellis via email@example.com or call 01263 732367.
Featured image of Adrian Spencer – supplied.