PAUL Broomhall simply believes he and his son are lucky to be alive. In a bizarre twist of fate, they both had heart surgery within months of each other and it has been incredibly life changing for them both.
Although their heart conditions are seemingly unrelated, the family believes it would have to be more than a coincidence. “Jordan’s heart used to race, and mine slowed down to the point of stopping,” Mr Broomhall said. After believing for a quarter of his life that he had epilepsy, one last test to rule out a cardiac condition revealed, he did in fact have a heart condition.
“I was a police officer, had been for more than 27 years and every year or so, I would just collapse. I was on very heavy doses of medication but when I collapsed, I couldn’t carry a firearm and I couldn’t drive a car for a period of time,” Mr Broomhall said.
“It was extremely disruptive to my life – to my whole family’s life and of course to my workmates. But then I fell and hit my head late last year and my neurologist said ‘I don’t think it’s your heart, but let’s just do one last test to be 100 per cent sure’. So they put a loop recorder in just under the skin.”
Loop recorders are used to capture the heart’s activities during a blackout, with programming and data retrieval conducted remotely. Paul’s was implanted in Cairns Hospital. “Well one morning I woke up and I wasn’t feeling well so I rang the hospital and asked them to check my results and they said: your heart stopped for 15 seconds at 4am today, come in immediately,” Mr Broomhall said.
He did, a pacemaker was placed in his chest at the cardiac catheter lab in Cairns Hospital and he has never felt better. “I’m not upset or angry or bitter that we thought I had epilepsy for so long – I’m just so grateful to be alive.” Son Jordan, now aged 24, was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia when he was a teenager.
“He was booked for an ablation when he was 18, which is where they burn some nerves in the heart, but the prospect of a heart procedure at the age of 18 proved too overwhelming and Jordan opted to try and live with his condition. Unfortunately his symptoms continued, and in addition to having supraventricular tachycardia, Jordan was further diagnosed with premature atrial complex,” Mr Broomhall said.
“We got another chance to have it done in Townsville late last year. And his life has improved out of sight ever since. It can be up to a 10 hour surgery, but he was done in five hours. “Jordan’s condition resulted in him becoming unemployed and post procedure he’s working again.”
If Cairns Hospital had a second cardiac catheter laboratory open at the time, he could have had the procedure in Cairns.
The Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation board has recently approved $1.4 million towards a second cardiac catheter laboratory to be installed at Cairns Hospital, which in the future could enable electrophysiology to be conducted in Cairns. This would be mean procedures such as Jordan’s could be conducted locally.
Mr Broomhall, formerly Sergeant Broomhall, a training officer with the Queensland Police Service, resigned just months after his surgery. “I just wanted a less stressful life after what we’ve been through.”
While the pair might not quite be ready to ride in the Mount Franklin Cardiac Challenge, they are passionate supporters of the event and health services in the Far North. “I love the public hospital and I’m so grateful to be here, so I think people should do everything they can to help heart services in Far North,” Mr Broomhall said.
Donate to the Mount Franklin Cardiac Challenge HERE.