On December 7, 2020, Simon, then 37, was out on an early morning run at Bracken Ridge when his life nearly ended. The father of two thought he was having a heart attack – but in fact, his aorta was dissecting, and blood was rushing through a 5-centimetre tear in his main artery.
“It was like being struck by lightning. I just had a dry feeling in the back of my throat, and it felt like something burst in my chest,” Simon said.
Simon recalls that his blood pressure dropped dramatically in the moments that followed, his eyesight became “technicolour”, and he lay down to slow his pulse. Eventually, he went searching for his glasses which he’d dropped during the ordeal. Once he’d found them, he remembers lying down thinking about death – determined that he wasn’t going to meet his maker that day.
He willed himself to his feet, clambered to a more populated area and set out to find help. He was knocking on doors with no luck.
“I knocked on a door, then fell over. I really wasn’t feeling great at all. I was sweating like nothing else. Suddenly, two bike riders rode past, so I yelled to them, ‘Hey! Hey, I think I’m having a heart attack’,” he recalled.
Those cyclists were a husband and wife who’d fortunately decided to go on their regular morning ride half an hour earlier than normal. They stopped to assist Simon, calling an ambulance and his wife.
By the time Simon was admitted for surgery at The Prince Charles Hospital, 2 hours and 45 minutes had passed since his aorta dissected.
He believes he heard one surgeon say, “You better get those people upstairs to get it together, we are going to lose this guy, and I’m not going to lose this guy.”
Simon is incredibly grateful to the cardiac surgeons who operated on him for more than 8-and-a-half hours, saving his life and inserting a mechanical aortic valve.
While he was fit and looked after his health and well-being before his aorta dissected, he still makes the most of every day – loving life, family, and friends, and he continues to prioritise his health by staying active.
Simon is also a singer in local Heavy Metal band, Massic, which formed in 2015. He continues to perform in the band with his mates, and they released their second album last May.
This year Simon is riding in the Australian Unity Tour de Brisbane and raising money for medical research into organ and tissue donation and related chronic conditions.
Not only is he appreciative that he had a device inserted that repaired his heart, but he knows that it’s inevitable that his heart will require lots of medical attention as he ages.
And along with his own health issues, his cousin was born with several of her own and requires continuous heart surgeries. She may even require a heart transplant one day.
“It feels like a bit of a destiny thing. I was handed an opportunity to do my little part, and to be present to do it is just ridiculous. I’m the guy who lived,” he says.
Support Simon on his ride here.