At the moment Dad is in hospital having tests to see if he is a good candidate for a revolutionary new treatment to replace the aortic valve in his 90 year old heart.
When open heart surgery was suggested to replace his badly clogged aortic valve I was horrified at the thought of putting him through an operation of this magnitude at his age.
So was he !
When the doctors explained that there was a new procedure ( first done world-wide in 2011) being trialed at the moment that might suit him, we were immediately interested. At the present time the doctor has performed about 120 of these procedures.
You see, this procedure is non-invasive - there is no opening of chests, spreading of ribs, being placed on a heart bypass machine while your heart is cut open to replace the valve that doesn't work.
It is meant for people who would be in too much danger of stroke and other side effects of anaesthetics ( and to me my 90 year old is one of these people ).
During the new procedure a biological valve ( usually from a pig !) is inserted through a catheter and implanted within a diseased aortic valve. The procedure allows for valve replacement without traditional open-heart surgery and while the heart is beating, therefore avoiding cardiopulmonary bypass.
Of course, at the moment, it is a clinical trial and therefore the procedure is completely unfunded which means that the patient has to pay for the whole cost of the procedure - hospital stay, doctors, anaesthetist plus the gadget itself is worth about $30 000 - and medical insurance which many Aussies have does not cover experimental treatments (and this includes trials ).
Only 3 or 4 of these procedures are done each month so even if you have the money and are a suitable candidate there is a waiting list of 6 to 8 months.
And this is where this card comes in.
If you have served in any Australian Defence force in a war zone, you are entitled to one of these.
(In some cases widows/widowers and children are also entitled ).
They're called Gold Cards and believe me they are pure gold to their recipients.
As a member of the Australian Air Force who served in New Guinea during WWII my Dad holds one of these and they will pay for everything if he is seen to be a candidate for this fantastic new procedure.
Isn't it wonderful to see that all the veterans are being looked after into their old age by a grateful country?
Fingers crossed. I'll keep you posted.