A singer who had to undergo a life-saving operation after collapsing on stage with an undiagnosed stomach condition is urging others to get tested.
The four surgeons who operated on 66-year-old George Kilpatrick for five hours told him he was lucky to be alive after his abdominal aortic aneurysm ruptured.
Mr Kilpatrick, of Silver Street, Stainforth, is speaking out now to raise awareness of the condition which is caused when the aorta – the main blood vessel in the abdomen – weakens and starts to expand.
The singer, who has been performing for 30 years, was on stage at the Pilgrim Theatre in Boston, Lincolnshire, on the evening of February 22 when he collapsed from the killer condition.
He said: “I was on stage ready to start my slot and all of a sudden I didn’t feel well, there was a pain in the stomach, and it felt like it was swelling up like a balloon.
“The next thing I knew I was waking up in the hospital after four surgeons had spent five hours operating on me.
“My wife was there and saw me collapse at the theatre, and luckily someone from the band caught me.
“I must have an angel on my shoulder because I shouldn’t be here after what happened to me, I’m lucky to be alive.
“I didn’t know anything about this condition, but it only took 15 seconds for it to very nearly kill me.”
In England and Wales, an estimated 80,000 men aged between 65 and 74 are affected by AAAs, which are caused when the aorta weakens and starts to expand.
If undetected, the aorta can rupture – a medical emergency that is usually fatal.
Around 6,000 people die every year from ruptured AAAs.
To mark the 65th anniversary of the NHS, men aged 65 and over in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw are being encouraged to consider taking advantage of a health screening programme.
Around 8,500 men in the region will be invited for screening during the year they turn 65.
Men who are already over 65 can also arrange an appointment by contacting the screening programme office directly.
Vascular surgeon Ray Cuschieri, clinical lead for the NHS AAA Screening Programme in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw, said: “The AAA Screening Programme is extremely important as men who have an AAA do not generally know they have the condition until it is too late, which is why screening is so important.
“The screening test is simple, painless, non-invasive and usually takes less than 10 minutes.”
Mr Kilpatrick added: “I want to speak out to raise awareness of this. I would urge everyone who receives a letter to take advantage of the screening, even if they feel fine. I felt fine and then I collapsed, so it’s so important to get checked out.”
Men over 65 who have not previously been screened can make an appointment by contacting the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw AAA Screening Programme on 01709 321189 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on AAAs, visit the national programme website at Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm