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Pioneering Rishton heart patient dies aged 69
A PIONEERING heart patient, who had a battery powered pump fitted instead of an organ transplant, has died aged 69.
Jean Smith of Westwood Avenue, Rishton, was one of the first people in the North West to be fitted with the device in March 2010, which meant she had no pulse.
She had been suffering from severe heart failure and, because she was unsuitable for a transplant, without the machine she would have been dead within weeks.
Her son, Dr Craig Smith, said she had “lived life to the full” in the two years and three months since the procedure, but died of a stroke on June 18.
He said: “The pump worked really well indeed, and as soon as she had it done, she went off to her nephew’s wedding in York, and was full of energy.
“She was very loving, generous, dynamic and glamorous, and always had a youthful outlook on life.
“Even though she suffered from complications and infections, she never complained.
“The only thing that she couldn’t do after having the pump fitted was travel. She’d been to Sri Lanka to visit her daughter Joanne about 15 times, and she’d been to places like Bangladesh.”
Dr Smith said that his mum also enjoyed dining out, fine wines, shopping, and taking care of her appearance.
Mrs Smith had done ‘odd jobs’ and hairdressing before qualifying as a nurse aged 45. In her medical career, she worked at Larkhill Medical Centre in Blackburn, as a school nurse, and advised on sexual health. She gave up her “passion” after becoming ill.
Dr Smith said that his mum’s health had been declining in recent months, and the stroke was linked to the heart pump.
He said: “The pump affects the blood vessels making them vulnerable to bleeds. We knew that something like this could happen at any moment.
“In the end, we had about 36 hours to prepare ourselves, and all the family were around her when we switched off the ventilator and the heart machine.
“Her death has left a big hole in all of our lives, but we look at the two years and three months extra we had with her as a wonderful gift.”
Mrs Smith leaves husband Frank, sons Craig and Neil, daughter Joanne, and 10 grandchildren.
Her funeral will be held today at the church of St Peter and Paul, Blackburn Road, Rishton, at 1pm.
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