A tribute to my family, friends, and colleagues.

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Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn. One minute you are celebrating a milestone birthday with your family and friends, watching rugby, followed by a knees-up. 10 days later you are admitted to hospital. It was a good party.

I spent nine days in hospital and discovered that I had a congenital heart condition. A condition that affects 1% of the population. At some point, rather than get a tricuspid aortic valve, I ended up with the less common bicuspid variety. Rather than three flaps, my valve only had two, and it was starting to fail.

Clearly this was a lot to process in a short period of time. My heart was working at 80% efficiency, and it needed attention, as it was struggling to keep up. Waiting for the diagnosis was mentally challenging, but that is when my family, friends and colleagues took over. At no point did I feel unsupported and, for that reason, all I can say is THANK YOU.  

Family and friends are one thing, but my colleagues, within which I include our customers, were superb. I was cut-off from work immediately and told to focus myself. My boss and The ai Corporation management team shut down my involvement immediately.

One customer said to me: “I don’t want to hear from you until you are signed off as medically fit”. Another said: “I am going to be in the UK shortly and I expect to see you fit and healthy.” Those exchanges gave me a lot of strength and confidence to draw upon.

Throughout this process, I have been thinking about the technology and innovation that has taken place to allow our medical experts to carry out this type of procedure. As an ex-chemist, I am proud to have been part of a scientific community that synthesized compounds that can be put in pills and used to prevent or manage medical conditions. It is truly incredible, that virtual teams of chemists all over the world have been able to create these types of medication. It blows your mind.

As well as the pharmaceuticals, medics have all the tools they need to do their jobs – echo and ultrasound, x-ray, MRI machines etc.… The level of engineering that goes into these tools is truly remarkable. I remember using magnetic resonance technology when I was researching chemical analytics, so it was fascinating to see it in action in a medical setting.

Pharmaceuticals and equipment aside, nothing works without people with medical expertise – I can’t praise the teams involved in my care highly enough. Once the root cause of my condition was established, I was referred to a heart surgeon by the cardiologist who was managing my case. One thing that will always stay with me is that both the cardiologist and the surgeon were supported by a team. None of this works without outstanding teamwork.

I pleased to say that I am now at home, recovering well and starting to feel 15 years younger. There is no doubt that I dodged a bullet. But the bottom-line is that I am still going because of talent technologists, truly outstanding medical experts, teamwork and because my family, friends and colleagues supported me, probably more than they will ever realise.

If I’m honest what I have gone through wasn’t just a physical challenge, it was more of a mental challenge, because our medics are so good at what they do. Family, friends, and colleagues sending messages of support, gave me great comfort. For that reason I feel duty bound to write this tribute and to say, once again, THANK YOU. I am a very lucky man.

Great technology, outstanding team work and a supportive environment that has wellbeing as central to success. Doesn’t this all sound familiar? This is a winning formula we need to replicate in business as well.