Near death experiences brought Northamptonshire friends together for fundraiser

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Two friends from our area brought together by a life-threatening cardiovascular condition have raised thousands for a heart charity.

Steve Brown, 44 from Burton Latimer, and Phil Rozee, 54 from Kettering, raised more than £2,000 for national charity Heart Research UK by completing the 25km International Waendel Walk in Wellingborough, near Kettering.

The pair each suffered type A aortic dissection in December 2016 – a tear in the inner layer of the aorta, the main artery of the body which carries blood from the heart to all organs.

The rare condition affects three or four people per 100,000 every year in the UK and up to 20 per cent of people die before reaching hospital.

Steve said: “We were both given small odds of surviving when we suffered it. Had we not undergone emergency open heart surgery, it certainly would have killed us both.

“In many cases aortic dissection is fatal. It can be difficult to diagnose and the symptoms can be very similar to those of a heart attack.

“The recovery from the trauma was slow and challenging.”

Phil said: “We became good friends through a support group following our emergency open heart surgery. We helped and supported each other. After all, we knew what the other was going through.

“We wanted to raise money for this ‘silent killer’, so looked for a charity that specifically researches disease of the aorta. That’s where we discovered Heart Research UK – they not only fund research but also aortic surgery masterclasses which gives surgeons expert training to save lives just like ours.”

Steve added: “The walk was tiring but we’re so pleased to have completed it, especially together. The support we’ve had from friends and family has been wonderful, and to raise so much money for Heart Research UK to keep funding research and training into aortic disease is truly the icing on top.”

The Waendel Walk saw 5,000 walkers take part this year, including some from as far as Spain, Australia, the Netherlands, Austria and Croatia.

To keep donating to Steve and Phil’s cause, donate online at uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/AortaBuddies.

If you would like to fundraise for Heart Research UK, talk to Rachel, Community Engagement Officer, via community@heartresearch.org.uk or call 0113 234 7474 today.