A former karate instructor is urging visitors to this year’s Royal Norfolk Show to back a vital piece of life-saving equipment when they visit.

Adrian Spencer, of Lowestoft, is supporting Norfolk Heart Trust’s latest campaign to fund a £1.5m state-of-the-art cardiac MRI scanner.

The Miracle Magnets 4 Hearts fundraisier is raising money for the equipment to be installed at the Norfolk and Norwich hospital. 

Eastern Daily Press: The Norfolk Heart Trust stand at the Royal Norfolk Show 2023

The 62-year-old has praised the equipment, and said he is alive thanks to the kit that diagnosed him at the James Paget hospital. 

Two years ago, he was struggling to breathe and did not have the energy to enjoy the gym, motocross, or run his four karate instruction centres.  

After an incorrect diagnosis for asthma and prescription for steroids he still felt breathless. 

Unable to walk, he checked into the hospital’s accident and emergency department and, following many tests and an MRI scan, discovered the left side of his heart was failing. 

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"I remember texting my wife April to say I had heart failure which until then was undetected," he said.

"Without that equipment it was difficult to know what was wrong. 

"I was a ticking time-bomb. It was only the MRI testing that would find the problem.  

“I probably shouldn’t have survived but I carried on. It’s amazing how you can look perfectly normal, yet be seconds away from death." 

His treatment began in early 2021 during the Covid pandemic.  

In July that same year he underwent a quadruple heart bypass at the Royal Papworth Hospital, in Cambridge, and after one week started walking normally again. 

Looking back, he has nothing but gratitude for the MRI and his consultant, Omar Abdul Samad.

Eastern Daily Press: The Norfolk Heart Trust stand at the Royal Norfolk Show 2023

He added: "No one can understand what you are going through or realise just how bad it is.

"I was a real burden on April who literally had to do everything. I couldn’t walk anywhere I would drive her to the supermarket and had to sit and wait for her.  

"We discovered it was probably a genetic problem, but the scanner meant the doctors knew how to treat it." 

Even prior to his diagnosis, he had sold his Karate centres in Great Yarmouth, Acle, Norwich and Lowestoft and retrained as a barber, a business which he runs from his Lowestoft home.   

The purchase of a MRI scanner solely for use with heart patients to ensure those in need of treatment can receive the right diagnosis and treatment in Norfolk. 

A dedicated CMR scanner provides unique 3D and 4D reconstructions of the heart, helps identify need for open heart or keyhole surgery and advises on treatment. 

Eastern Daily Press: Iain Brooksby

The Trust’s campaign is being backed by friends of the late Iain Brooksby, a leading cardiologist and former medical director of hospital and past chair, who helped save the lives of so many people in the county. 

There will be an Iain Brooksby Memorial Event comprising a golf day and dinner supported by and held at Barnham Broom in mid-September, and a 'money cannot buy’ online auction. 

Norfolk Heart Trust is one of the Royal Norfolk Show president’s chosen charities for 2023. 

  • The Norfolk Heart Trust stand is 116 and can be found on Avenue 8, where cardio consultants and cardio nurses will be on hand with portable ultra-sound machines to talk about affairs of the heart and answer questions and concerns. 
  • Email Jonathan Ellis at iainbrooksbymemorialevent@gmail.com for more information about the Iain Brooksby Memorial Event.