Kerry Packer is Australia's richest man and in the world's top 50. A few days he checked in to Australia's leading heart unit (which he has previously donated millions of dollars to and has Australia's best heart experts) but all of a sudden he ordered up his private jet and took off for USA.
Considering Mr Packer's close relationship with the Australian team, there has been much speculation about why he is not being treated by them. The follow article appeared in The Age (Melbourne) today.
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Packer's heart in best hands money can buy
By MARK RILEY
When Australia's richest man, Mr Kerry Packer, decided to have his next round of heart surgery in New York, he went exactly where he would be expected to go - straight to the top and straight to the best. The man chosen to perform what is believed to be a heart bypass and valve replacement procedure this week, Dr Wayne Isom, is one of the world's leading cardiac surgeons.
Dr Isom is the chairman of the Cornell Medical Centre's Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery and the director of a group at the hospital that is pioneering a radical genetic medicine alternative to traditional bypasses. The procedure could replace open-heart surgery for many people. Instead of invasive surgery, heart patients would have a gene-based drug injected directly into their hearts, and their bodies would do the rest. Within weeks, the patients' hearts would effectively grow their own bypasses, producing new blood vessels that would take the load away from those diseased by atherosclerosis.
Specialists at the medical college have been conducting trials of the ground-breaking procedure since January, and are confident it will usher in a new era for the treatment of heart disease. It is not known whether Mr Packer would be considered for the new program, but it is believed his medical team, travelling with him from Australia on his private jet, will be fully briefed on it. Dr Isom said yesterday that he would not breach doctor-patient confidentiality by talking about Mr Packer's case. But he did say ``we get calls from people suffering from renal failure and heart failure who nobody else wants to operate on, and we take on their cases.'' Mr Packer is expected to arrive in New York before the end of the week to undergo surgery for a leaky heart valve and to have another heart bypass. He has spent much of the past fortnight in Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, where he is believed to have undergone a renal artery angioplasty, in which a surgical balloon was used to unblock his main kidney artery. Mr Packer also suffers from the heart disease, artherosclerosis, which causes a life-threatening narrowing of the arteries and can lead to strokes and heart attacks.
In 1990, his heart stopped for eight minutes after he suffered a heart attack while playing polo. He was operated on at St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, by the leading heart specialist, Dr Victor Chang. Mr Parker has been troubled by medical ailments since he was a child. He had polio and rheumatic fever in the 1940s. Then, when he was 18 he survived a car accident near Goulburn in which three others died. Then 12 years ago, Mr Packer had a diseased gall bladder and a cancerous kidney removed.
Mr Packer's father Frank died of heart failure when he was 67. Neither Mr Packer's office or executives would comment yesterday.