Gorleston PE teacher is only sixth person to have pioneering heart surgery


Superfit PE teacher Tom Burt is recovering from innovative and pioneering surgery that means his leaky heart is as good as new.

PE teacher Tom Burt from Gorleston is planning on running the London Marathon after undergoing heart

PE teacher Tom Burt from Gorleston is planning on running the London Marathon after undergoing heart surgery.Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

The 26-year-old, of Buxton Avenue, Gorleston is one of only six people to have undergone the complex procedure to correct a heart murmur.

It involved swapping his ‘bad’ valve with his ‘good’ one and replacing that one with a donor valve.

At the same time a 3-D printed sleeve was wrapped around his damaged aorta to support it.

So pioneering is the double procedure renowned heart surgeon Conal Astin plans to show a video of it at a conference in Vienna.

“It was amazing,” Mr Burt said. “He saw my case and wanted to try something innovative and new. All the work they did was incredible and to be in hospital for only five days was pretty good too.

“The surgery has only been done on five other people. He calls me ‘number six’.”

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As a sports mad PE teacher Mr Burt had no idea he was carrying a high risk hidden fault that could have killed him.

Fortunately his congenital heart murmur was picked up at a routine check and he was told to stop all sports.

With an aorta more than double the size it should have been, due to a leaky valve, he had few symptoms and would have carried on regardless had it not been detected - potentially with deadly consequences.

As it was he faced repeated surgery and possibly losing his career, but was fortunate to be referred to Mr Austin who was working to improve the outcomes for children with the same condition.

This week Mr Burt, a PE teacher at Great Yarmouth’s Trafalgar College, said he was astounded by what doctors had been able to do for him and wanted to give something back - by tackling his first marathon in London.

He has already won a place and got the okay from medics, just eight weeks after the open heart surgery at Guys and St Thomas Hospital in London.

Mr Burt wants to raise £2,500 for the British Heart Foundation as a way of saying thank you for all the life-saving surgery and help he has received.

Having been given a second chance he is looking to the future with optimism and will marry his partner Annabelle Williams on October 21 in Lowestoft.

To donate visit his Just Giving page by clicking here.