Poet stages show at Royal Free Hospital where his life was saved after heart failure

A man who had massive heart failure at the age of 30 will be returning to the hospital which saved his life to perform a show about his experience.

Richard Tyrone Jones, now 31, will perform his spoken word show Big Heart at the Royal Free Hospital on Friday, June 15, before taking it to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August and on a 12-date UK tour.

He hopes the production will encourage people to go to their doctor and be checked for any niggling health problems.

Richard ignored his own warning signs of ill-health, including tiredness and migraines, before being hospitalised.

It was only in March 2010 that he was diagnosed with an enlarged heart by the Royal Free Hospital after he had an echocardiogram.

He was admitted to hospital and put on beta blockers, but they worked too well and lowered his blood pressure and he started suffering what felt like a heart attack.

Luckily the nurses on duty stabbed him full of adrenaline and his heart started again after stopping for four seconds.

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“I had massive heart failure,” said Richard, who lived in Highgate at the time before moving to New Cross. “They told me I did not have a heart attack but it felt exactly like one.”

After the incident he had a defibrillator implanted to treat life-threatening heartbeat irregularities but he believes the condition will still “almost certainly kill him one day”.

Before he suffered heart failure, Richard had been performing spoken word events for about nine years so it was a natural progression to turn his experience into a new show.

He wrote Big Heart, which mixes poetry, anecdotes and projected animation, at the end of 2010 and then did a short run at a couple of festivals last year.

The poet describes the show’s debut at the hospital as a “very special preview” for him. “It’s been the worst thing that has happened to me health wise – but the best in terms of material.”

Entry is free and the performance will be followed by a Q&A session with cardiac experts, including Professor Anthony Mathur, a top stem-cell researcher.

* Big Heart starts at 4pm on Friday, June 15 in The Atrium at the Royal Free Hospital in Pond Street, Hampstead. For information call 020 7794 0500.