As the loveable Silbery family return to TV screens this week on Gogglebox Australia, Emily Milligan shares the story of her lifesaving treatment at The Alfred.
Many people would recognise Emily Milligan as the 91-year-old, quick-witted great grandmother from TV program Gogglebox. Emily shares a screen with daughter Kerry and granddaughter Isabelle, and the multi-generational trio are known for their entertaining commentary, critiquing everything from Insight on SBS to The Bachelor.
But Emily nearly didn't get the chance to capture the hearts of Australians after being diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, an irregular and often rapid heart rate that can increase the risk of stroke, heart failure and other complications.
With four siblings having passed away from heart disease, Emily was quick to act when she started experiencing breathlessness and a tightness in her chest. Investigations revealed her situation was critical and Emily required immediate open-heart surgery.
'A scan showed I had four blocked arteries and I was immediately scheduled for surgery at The Alfred,' Emily says. 'Unfortunately, right before surgery an angiogram revealed I had pneumonia and I had to recover before surgery commenced.'
Emily was in The Alfred for six weeks, experiencing cardiac arrest post-surgery and a challenging period of rehabilitation. She vividly recalls the care shown by Alfred staff when she felt at her lowest. 'I was in shock and scared one night and I just cried and cried. A lovely nurse took my hand and told me I was going to be okay; I will never forget it.'
Speaking to Emily and daughter Kerry, it's easy to appreciate why the family has become a popular fixture on our screens. Kerry talks about her mum's 'tough convict stock' with an admiration many of us would find relatable.
'Mum lost bother of her parents before the age of nine,' said Kerry. 'She moved from Mildura to Tasmania to live with an aunt but was completely seperated from her siblings.'
Now a regular attendee at fundraising functions for Alfred Health, Emily is grateful for the lifesaving care she received and clearly she has a deep affection for the nurses who cared for her, having also spent a short time as a nurse when she left school at 16 during the war.
'I owe them my life. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for them.'
You can help support lifesaving cardiac treatment at The Alfred by getting involved in this year's Critical Care Appeal. As we continue to fight the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic we need your support to continue to provide the other lifesaving care that tens of thousands of Victorians like Emily will require this year at The Alfred. There has never been a more critical time to support The Alfred.