Suellen Pettersen

Suellen's Journey so far

In 2000 I was working part time and found I was running out of breath. After visits to my local doctor and various medications being tried with no improvement, it was back to doctors and a locum. Heart tests were done and a referral to Dr Tony Jackson who saw me at very short notice. Dr Jackson said I should go to The Alfred (again at very short notice) as I think you have primary pulmonary hypertension. The family seems to have a history of this condition with the death of my cousin 15 years before.

On going to The Alfred and seeing Prof Trevor Williams and Prof Greg Snell it was confirmed, and I was placed on the waiting list.

In March 2002 we went away for a week to St Leonards, arriving back at Bendigo and after unpacking and having a meal we went to bed. At approx 4.30 am the beeper went off. I called The Alfred to confirm, made preparations and took off arriving about 7 am. Booked in and had a long day in theatre. There were a few complications and I was unconscious for about 16 days. After finding out what the problem was I started recovery on Ward 5. After about 8 weeks and physio I went to Sandringham Rehab near the beach which was very nice.

After more rehab it was back to The Alfred and our Unit close by for more physio with Louise and co.

After about 6 months I finally went home to Bendigo.

I have had only one setback (in 2003) and was flown to Melbourne in a light plane (said next time I will walk!).
These days we prefer train travel (much more relaxing) when going to The Alfred for appointments.

I have a gym program which was set up between Lou at Physio and Eaglehawk Leisure Centre where I go about 5 times a week. Everything is going well - touch wood!

Be happy and stay positive.

Suellen Pettersen

Suellen's story was featured in the Bendigo Advertiser during Organ Donor Awareness Week in 2009 and she is still keen to help promote organ and tissue donation whenever she can.