Heart surgery sur­vivor’s big ad­ven­ture

Central Leader - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - MANDY TE

A Mt Roskill res­i­dent is tak­ing on Auck­land’s 75km Hil­lary Trail for a cause close to his heart.

Be­van El­lis, 27, grew up with a heart con­di­tion and un­der­went his sec­ond open heart surgery in March. He spent the next five weeks in hospi­tal, los­ing a lot of mus­cle mass.

Dur­ing his first op­er­a­tion at 15, El­lis had his mi­tral valve re­placed with a porcine valve. This year, he went into heart fail­ure due to en­do­cardi­tis, an in­fec­tion on the heart valve, and had to have his valve re­placed with a me­chan­i­cal valve.

Now he has de­cided to walk the Hil­lary Trail on Auck­land’s West Coast to in­crease heart health aware­ness and raise funds for the Heart Foun­da­tion.

He hoped that by do­ing the hike, he could en­cour­age other peo­ple with heart con­di­tions to get out and be ac­tive.

‘‘You don’t have to worry about af­ter surgery be­cause you can still do a lot of things and can get back to a nor­mal rou­tine if you re­ally set your mind to it,’’ El­lis said.

He will be hik­ing with close friends Dan Hooker, Is­abella Hooker and Ta­mati Parker.

Dan Hooker, an Ul­ti­mate Fight­ing Cham­pi­onship (UFC) fighter, set up phys­io­ther­apy to help with his best friend’s re­cov­ery.

‘‘He’s been there through­out my ca­reer, help­ing me with train­ing and sup­port­ing me on my jour­ney,’’ Hooker said.

‘‘We’ve got­ten my fight out of the way with UFC Auck­land and now, it’s his fight so we’re get­ting on board and back­ing him up.’’

Yoga in­struc­tor Is­abella Hooker said she had seen huge progress in El­lis’ fit­ness.

El­lis has been do­ing physio three times a week along with train­ing and yoga to pre­pare for the hike.

‘‘He’s been im­prov­ing every week, which helps with ev­ery­thing,’’ Hooker said.

Parker said rais­ing funds for the Heart Foun­da­tion was typ­i­cal of his friend’s char­ac­ter.

‘‘Be­van spends most of his time help­ing other peo­ple out and he’s a good ex­am­ple of some­one who, against all odds, can set an am­bi­tious goal and achieve it,’’ Parker said.

‘‘He took it with his teeth and ran with it.’’

Heart Foun­da­tion med­i­cal di­rec­tor Gerry Devlin said the foun­da­tion was grate­ful for El­lis’ sup­port.


Is­abella Hooker, Be­van El­lis and Daniel Hooker will be walk­ing the Hil­lary Trail in Au­gust.

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