News.com.au | 27 Apr 2023
Gareth O’Gradie, a previously healthy father-of-two, was forced to make an “extreme” decision after a horror diagnosis left doctors stumped.
For Gareth O’Gradie, the 20-centimetre scar on his chest serves as a constant reminder that his life will never be the same after the Covid vaccine.
The Melbourne teacher — a previously healthy father-of-two who was into running, footy, cricket and tennis — had part of his heart removed in February last year as an “extreme” last resort, after seven months bedridden and in constant pain.
Mr O’Gradie, 41, developed severe pericarditis — inflammation of the lining around the heart — soon after receiving his first Pfizer vaccination in July 2021.
“Six days after [the vaccination] I had sudden-onset chest pain, shortness of breath, fever, chills, sweats,” he said. “I’d never known what a heart attack would feel like, but that’s the type of thing I expected.”
He was rushed to hospital and soon diagnosed with vaccine-induced pericarditis. Over the subsequent months, unable to work, he spent 90 days in and out of hospital and was placed on a raft of different medications and therapies, to no avail.
“It came back quite badly in February 2022 and I was in hospital for 35 days — that’s when the surgery took place,” he said.
“In the end I had open heart surgery to remove the pericardium, which had become inflamed and stuck to my heart. It’s extreme. All the heads of different departments, cardiology, rheumatology, cardiothoracic, all had conferences to say, ‘We’ve tried this, what is the next step for this recurrent pericarditis we can’t control the pain for?’ It wasn’t an easy decision. They said, ‘Nothing’s working — this is what we can offer.’”