Billericay Pensioner Saved from Invisible Killer

July 2016

Two men have thanked routine check-up events run by a men's health charity for saving their lives - and are urging other men to shed macho images to stay alive.

Alan Osborn who had an abdominal aortic aneurysm and Kelvin Bowles who has had prostate cancer surgery, had their potentially life-threatening conditions first diagnosed at CHAPS men's health check events.

Both men are urging other to follow suit at the next health check day, which is at The Marconi Club in Chelmsford on August 3.

CHAPS is a registered charity which aims to raise awareness and support the development of new health services directly targeted at men's needs to enable them to take care of their own health and well being.

Alan found out by chance that he had a potentially deadly condition at Colchester United Football Club where he had taken his 1953 Bentley R type as chairman of the Classic Vehicles Club on March 28 2012.

The married father of two from Crays Hill near Billericay says he can thank his beloved car for helping save his life - leaving his wife still with a husband and two sons with a father.

Mr Osborn, who is the boss at cleaning company Two Services, and turns 70 next month said: "CHAPS saved my life - and they continue to do so.

"The important thing is that men have this macho image that there is nothing wrong with me - but they don't get their vital bits checked out and they just sit on the problem.

"The husband of someone I know just dropped down dead all of sudden a couple of months ago.

"He died of an abdominal aortic aneurysm. His wife was trying to get her husband to attend a CHAPS event in Colchester in March this year.

"But she didn't push the issue and if he had gone it would have been sorted and he would be alive today."

Skin, prostate and vascular problems can all be tested at the events which have been linked to saving scores of lives.

He added: "These services if paid for privately would be very expensive but they are free and they are a life saver."

He decided to get himself checked out with CHAPS even though he had been feeling healthy just because he happened to be at the classic car show where the charity was carrying out free tests.

But he was astonished to discover he was harbouring a potentially fatal abdominal aortic aneurysm - an expansion of the largest artery in his body, which carries blood to the torso and legs.

Left undetected it could have ruptured with fatal consequences.

He said: "I was asked to take a classic car I own by Chris Booth, the clinical director at CHAPS. But while I was there I thought I get would get my blood pressure done - but then they suggested to me that I get an ultrasound done of my chest.

"The man said 'do you know you have an aneurysm?"

"He said 'let me explain. If you have an aneurysm, when it gets to 5cm they have to do an operation to correct it. I have just measured yours at 7.4cm'".

Armed with the unsettling news Alan immediately went to his doctor and had was operated on, on April 13.

He said: "There are no signs, it's an invisible illness that kills 1,000 men a year."

He added: "There have been other things that have happened since then at classic cars show that would have meant I would have been a goner - it's a lifesaver.

Men have got to go and get booked in and get checked out."

Chris Booth CHAPS Clinical Director said "Alan's abdominal aortic aneurysm was 7.4cm in diameter. Alan was 62 and would not have been eligible for NHS screening until the age of 65.

"I have little doubt the abdominal aortic aneurysm would have burst by then and with an 80 per cent mortality rate for burst AAAs, Alan would likely have become one more of the 6,000 UK men who die of this complication each year.

"In the event, he underwent pioneering keyhole surgery to slip a "stent" - basically an artificial inner lining - into the AAA within 3 weeks of discovery and was out of hospital within a remarkable 36 hours.

"Alan continues to have follow up scans which have all been fine and he has been a great supporter of the charity."