Patient Susan Payne bids to track down Sully heart op surgeon

A woman who had pioneering life-saving heart surgery nearly 60 years ago wants to trace the family of her surgeon to pay tribute.

Susan Payne, 68, believes she was the first patient in Wales to have a hole in her heart repaired in May 1960.

Then aged 10, it involved being “frozen” to slow her heart. She was given a 50% survival chance, she said.

Ms Payne from Newbridge on Wye, Powys, said it would be “amazing” to find the family to say thanks.

“I had a friend called Royston who had the same operation as me at around the same time. When I woke up, I couldn’t see him on the ward. My mother later told me he had died,” she recalled.

Medics discovered her condition quite by chance.

She was admitted to hospital with a kidney infection, but during a routine ward round a doctor mistook her for another child with the same name, and listened to her chest instead.

He immediately realised the seriousness of her condition, according to Ms Payne.

She was transferred to the former Sully Hospital in the Vale of Glamorgan and underwent the then ground-breaking technique to slow her heart rate.

“Getting that right was very difficult,” said Ms Payne.

“Not slowing it so much that I would die, but slowing it enough so that they had time to work on it.

Story by BBC Wales. Read the full story via

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Nathan Spackman

Nathan is the Operations Director and one half of Vale Breakfast on Bro Radio. You'll hear him reading local news, hosting at local events and presenting our facebook live videos.