June 24, 2021

Cayman Islands heart surgery patient supports ambulance appeal

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Kevin Watler 4 PRINTFormer Cayman 27 reporter Kevin Watler, who has recently recovered from open heart surgery, is urging everyone to support the appeal to buy a new ambulance for the Cayman Islands.

Kevin is a member of Cayman Heart Fund which is running the appeal and is the chosen charity of the 2016 Deputy Governor’s 5K Challenge.

The Heart Fund has already raised $50,000 and the Deputy Governor’s 5K Challenge aims to raise the same amount to help towards the charity’s target of $150,000. The goal is to have the new back-up vehicle purchased for the Health Services Authority and on the road by Christmas.

“We are raising funds for an ambulance, which the island really needs,” said Kevin. “Many of us will end up using an ambulance at some point in our lives. So, if we all work together and buy one, it will save many lives.”

In 2013, aged 26, Kevin was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) after suffering from chest pains and palpitations. HCM, a complex type of heart disease, is the most common cause of sudden cardiac death in people younger than 30. It affects an estimated one in 500 people in the United States.

Kevin Watler 3 PRINTIn April of that year he had an operation to implant a small electronic device into his chest to help prevent sudden death from cardiac arrest due to life-threatening abnormally fast heart rhythms.

However, as Kevin’s chest pains and palpitations continued and he often found it difficult to walk up and down stairs or even a few hundred feet on flat ground, he was recommended to have the surgical procedure septal myectomy.

This open heart surgery was performed at Cleveland Clinic Ohio in June last year, and proved successful, with Kevin able to return to work as a communications specialist in Florida after three months, although he had to take care not to over-exert himself. In December, following completion of cardiac rehab, he was given the all-clear.

His chronic heart-related problems have been greatly alleviated although he will be forever limited when it comes to participating in high-intensity sports and other vigorous exercise.

Kevin, who worked at Cayman 27 for seven years in various roles as a reporter, weather presenter and website producer, produced an award-winning documentary about his heart condition. The show, A Matter of the Heart, received the Caribbean Broadcast Union’s Clare Forrester Award for Best Health Journalism in 2014, sponsored by the Pan American Health Organization. It can be viewed online at http://bit.ly/1RiLAoK.

Although now based in the United States, Kevin continues to support Cayman Heart Fund, which he joined when became unwell. He manages the charity’s website caymanheartfund.com and social media sites, using his communications skills to promote the organisation.

The 2016 Deputy Governor’s 5K Challenge takes place in Cayman Brac on Sunday, 17 April and Grand Cayman on Sunday, 24 April, both starting at 6.30 a.m. The walk/run is suitable for all ages and fitness levels. Registration is being held on 7, 8, 14 and 15 April in the District Administration Building on Cayman Brac and the Government Administration Building in Grand Cayman, as well as 21 and 22 April in Grand Cayman. Visit www.odg.gov.ky/DG5k for the registration form and further details. 

Photo caption: (Photos submitted)

Kevin Watler 3: Kevin Watler recovers in hospital after open heart surgery.

Kevin Watler 4: Kevin Walter 10 months after open heart surgery, having recently been given the all-clear.


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