Dad's brush with death saves his son's life
WHEN Scott Grady was suddenly crippled with pain, he quickly suspected he was having a heart attack and was about to be in one hell of a fight for survival.
What he didn't know was his horrific ordeal, which very nearly cost him how own life, would be the thing that would likely save his eldest son from an early death.
Scott, who manages Warwick's Big W Distribution Centre, was working on September 8 last year when he realised something was not right.
"It only took a minute to start and it was this severe pain that started out in my back," he said.
"I thought, 'That's weird, I have a spasm in my back'.
"It became overwhelming and I had to sit on the floor because I thought I was going to pass out.
"That's when I started to think it was a heart attack."
Heart problems run in Scott's family, with both his father and grandfather dying from an aortic dissection, which occurs when the inner layer of the aorta tears.
Scott's wife Rachel rushed to be by her deathly-ill husband's side and she may have helped save his life.
"He told the ambulance he had the ripping back pain and they said, 'Well then it's not his heart, because it doesn't show up that the symptoms are the same.
"As soon as I got there I said can you please scan his aorta because his father died of an aortic dissection.
A CT scan was ordered and the seriousness of his condition uncovered.
Scott was flown to a Gold Coast hospital for emergency surgery and Rachel and one of the couple's four sons, Connor, made an anxious journey together via car.
"By the time he got there Scott called me to say he loved me and I honestly thought that was the last thing I would hear from him," Rachel said.
"At one point my dad had to hold me because I kept collapsing. I can't explain it but it was like I had lost him already.
"I was howling and I couldn't stand up, it was like this immense grief."
With the odds stacked against him and given a 5% chance of survival, Scott battled through a long and continuing road to recovery.
His condition is genetic and doctors recommended the couple's four adult sons - Dylan, 24, Ryan, 23, Callum, 20 and Connor, 18, be tested to see if they had inherited the heart condition.
Just weeks ago they were heartbroken to learn their eldest child, Dylan, had the same condition and an aneurysm that was almost the size his father's was (when it ruptured) and nearly killed him.
Dylan, who works as a chiropractor in Warwick and Brisbane, will later this month undergo an aortic root replacement and an ascending aortic replacement.
Despite the big steps ahead of him, he is feeling positive and focused on moving forward.
"I kind of expected it, I wasn't too surprised, I just had this feeling I had it too," he said.
"It's a pretty big surgery but the good news is my brothers are fine for now, but will need to be checked yearly."
"I will be in hospital for a couple of weeks and then unable to look after myself for six weeks but my fiancee Jana (Gabrijel) and my mum will be there to help take care of me.
"It'll be fine and I just want to get it over and done with so I can get back to work and get on with it."
Dylan's diagnosis and need for surgery was tough on his father. " I hate that he has to go through this and I do have that little built of guilt - even though you can't help genetics - that I've passed this down to him," Scott said.
"Open-heart surgery is not for the faint hearted and the recovery is long and slow but he is young and he will be fine, especially since it's not an emergency like it was with me."
Rachel said although she and Scott had been through so much over past months, they would willingly go through hell to save their child. "I am so devastated and Scott is so devastated but at the same time we are so thankful it happened because it really did save Dylan's life," she said.
"Life has slowed down for us and there are a lot of things Scott can't do. He can't run or lift over 5km, mow the lawn and we had planned to travel overseas and have had to put that off.
"But he is here and you have to look at the positives."
Though looking down the barrel of serious heart surgery, Dylan and his parents are confident he is going to make it through to live a life without restrictions.
And for now, they say the support of family is what matters most.
"All of our boys are just so close and they are all worried about Dylan," Rachel said.
"Ryan keeps saying 'Why couldn't it be me?' All four of them are best mates."
"Dylan is in good hands with one of the top aortic surgeons and we will be there and so will his brothers."
Rachel said she couldn't be more grateful to the staff at Warwick Hospital for their care of her husband, in particular Dr Hollie and nurse Jo.