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Positive outlook after life-changing heart surgery

Doug Hosking has lived in Tauranga for 27 years and, by all accounts, is your typical average Kiwi. But little did he know his life was about to change when he and his wife went on a backpacking holiday to Mexico and Central America in 2015.

Doug stands with a view of a mountain valley behind him.

“I first noticed as we were ascending some of those Mayan pyramids that I was getting tired and out of breath very easily,” he recalls. “I knew something wasn’t quite right as I’d never felt like that before, so I went to see a heart specialist in Mexico.”

After running a few tests, including an ECG, the specialist prescribed some medication for Doug but advised him to seek further treatment once he returned to New Zealand.

As the problem persisted, Doug sought further advice

“I took it easy for the next few months, but I wasn’t getting any better and still felt short of breath when exercising,” he says. “Then, in 2016, I ended up in a hospital in Tauranga and had a stent put in, which still didn’t seem to solve the problem.”

Doctors subsequently found a blockage close to Doug’s heart and told him that something had to be done immediately.

“They said I wouldn’t get a second chance to deal with my heart,” he says. “So in March 2016, I was transferred to Waikato and had heart bypass surgery, which was a huge deal for me.”

Coming to terms with heart bypass surgery

Doug’s mother passed away in 1993 during heart bypass surgery when the doctors couldn’t restart her heart. It took a lot of courage for him to accept that this was the only solution.

“I must have inherited this problem,” he says. “And a part of me was scared about the risks, but the alternatives were even worse, so I had to go through with it.

“Thankfully, the operation all went to plan, and once I got home, it was plain sailing,” he says. “I did it by the book, slowly increasing the exercise I did each day. At the moment, I try to get out on a walk a few times a week and head up the Mount or Ōtanewainuku as often as possible.”

A positive outlook is key

Now 67, Doug is retired with some spare time on his hands and has decided to volunteer for the Heart Foundation Big Heart Appeal on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 February 2023.

“It’s a good cause because people don’t realise, but an awful lot of Kiwis have heart issues,” he says. “I’m just trying to do my part and want to help increase the funding they receive in any way I can.”

For others who may be going through something similar to him, Doug believes having the right outlook is key to living your best life.

“Be proactive,” he says. “If you have any warning signs, get to your doctor and get checked out because, for me, it was almost too late. And from then on, stay positive. These things happen - they are all part of life. Heart issues can happen at any stage, so maintaining a positive attitude really helps. And so does having a sense of humour about everything!”

Sign up to volunteer

Heart disease is New Zealand’s single biggest killer, claiming the lives of more than one person every 90 minutes. Heart disease can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. But by coming together and volunteering in the community, we can raise vital funds for life-saving heart research.

If you’d like to volunteer as a street collector for the Big Heart Appeal on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 February, please visit