Origin great Kerrod Walter's open heart surgery ordeal
KERROD Walters collected a few scars during his rugby league career but none come close to the "zipper" he now has on his chest.
The former international never expected to be back in the news in the countdown to this year's State of Origin but he's found himself there after undergoing open heart surgery.
The scar which runs all the way down his chest reminds him of his good fortune in surviving the health scare.
It also motivates him to urge other men to see their doctor if they notice any unusual health symptoms.
"I'm lucky enough to be able to tell the tale," the 46-year-old former Bronco, Maroon and Australian hooker said.
Despite a healthy lifestyle and exercising regularly, the Caloundra businessman suffered a heart attack last May and underwent his first round of surgery to install a stent to clear a blocked artery.
"When I got to hospital, I was really crook. They stabilised me and I felt fine, I thought they were going to send me home, but they said 'you've had a heart attack', and I said 'what?'" he recalled.
He underwent surgery the same day. If he thought that was the end of his health scares, he was badly mistaken.
After suffering a torn hamstring during a touch football game last month, he again felt unwell and tests revealed his suspect artery was 80% blocked due to scar tissue build-up.
Again he went under the knife and it was during a spell in a Brisbane Hospital that he met four other Sunshine Coast men who had had similar health scares.
It opened his eyes to the need for men of all ages and fitness levels to be aware of the symptoms of heart disease.
Walters said tiredness, shortness of breath, pain in the arm or even the shoulder were tell-tale symptoms, but everyone was different.
"The big thing is - particularly for males - we just ignore it, but if you have a heart attack you've got a 50/50 chance of survival," he said. "Anything out of the ordinary, go to the doctor."
Walters will be involved in a health promotion leading up to the first State of Origin, noting Queensland's greatest Origin player Arthur Beetson also died from a heart attack.
"If just one guy learns my story and takes the advice and goes to his doctor and finds something, it's worth it," he said.