Debbie Colson


I have a connective tissue disorder called Loeys-Dietz Syndrome, which weakens arteries. In 2012 I had an aortic dissection (a tear in the vessel wall). At first I thought the pain and vomiting was food poisoning, but sadly it wasn’t!

Over the next five months this developed into a large aneurysm and the team at St George’s Hospital operated in April 2013. They discovered that my vessel walls were too inflamed to fix the aneurysm, and instead replaced several connecting arteries with artificial ones. This enabled them, six weeks later, to fit a stent to fix the aneurysm.

By September 2016, the point where my aorta joins onto my heart had widened and I was in danger of it rupturing, so I chose to have this ‘aortic root’ replaced. The first months after surgery were difficult as I initially had abnormal heart rhythms, and developed pleurisy after a chest infection.

“The teams at St George’s Hospital were skilled, careful and kind, and have now saved my life several times.”

After all three surgeries it took several months to recover and for the post-anaesthetic ‘brain fog’ to clear. At times I wondered if I would ever get fully back to normal, but a year after the heart surgery I feel great and recently did a ten-mile walk!