When Mitchell Powell set off to the Bristol Heart Institute on February 3 last year to get the surgery, he was excited to get the treatment over and done with
Image: Powell family/Media Wales)
The family of a young dad is reeling after he went into cardiac arrest during a long-awaited double heart valve replacement surgery and didn’t make it out.
When Mitchell Powell set off to the Bristol Heart Institute on February 3 last year to get the surgery, with a convoy of his mum Caroline, dad David, sister Kirsty and fiancée Danielle in other cars, he was in good spirits, excited to get the treatment over and done with.
The 26-year-old even tweeted a picture of himself outside the entrance, proudly wearing his Swansea City Football Club face mask, telling people ‘the day had arrived’, and ‘let’s go’.
The young Swansea man had been born with a heart condition, which meant he had been through 20 heart operations over the years, had been reliant on a pacemaker and had been told he would need a full heart transplant in early adulthood, Wales Online reports.
Recalling the day of his operation, his sister, Kirsty Davies Powell said: “We were all so excited for him to go in because he was declining so rapidly leading up to his operation.
“So when the phone call came, we were all so chuffed and he was so excited to have his old life back, because he became so bad he couldn’t look after his daughter.”
Powell family/Media Wales)
Tragically, the day was to turn into one that none of the Powell family had anticipated. While undergoing the procedure inside the hospital, Mitchell’s heart was not strong enough and he went into cardiac arrest and sadly died.
Mrs Davies Powell said it came as a “massive shock”. The family still hadn’t accepted what had happened, she said.
Within an hour of leaving the hospital, Danielle received a phone call asking the family to come up because there had been a complication.
“We all thought that we’d be told they were not able to do surgery through the planned keyhole method so they would have to open him up. Never in a million years did we think when we went in that we would be told he suffered a cardiac arrest.”
“That was at 11.30am in the morning, and they fought and fought and fought all day for Mitchell, but it just wasn’t enough, he wasn’t strong enough.”
Mitchell’s older brother David had been away working in Portsmouth, but the family quickly summoned him to make his way up while Mitchell fought for his life.
Powell family/Media Wales)
“He made his way up, my sister-in-law made her way up from Swansea, Danielle’s parents made their way up. We were all in a waiting room for hours and hours and hours and they had tried their absolute best for him, but it wasn’t enough, there was nothing they could do,” Mrs Davies Powell said.
“Just before midnight he passed away.”
Thinking back on that initial period of grief, Mrs Powell Swansea said there were “just no words” for it.
“My heart will never be the same again, it will always ache for Mitchell. It was a terrible, terrible pain, I’ve never felt anything like it,” she said.
The news of Mitchell’s death sent Swansea into mourning.
He was regarded as a very special person to many, and never forgot about the help he had received throughout his life, dedicating himself to raising as much money as he could to support the British Heart Foundation, once being named the charity’s fundraiser of the year .
He was passionate about football, and was an avid Swansea City fan who would attend every home game with his dad at the Liberty Stadium, and travel to the away games too.
At a local level, he was also an integral part of Maltsters Sports AFC, performing the role of secretary of the adult side, and was a key component to starting its successful junior ranks.
Powell family/Media Wales)
An inquest was held into Mitchell’s death in Bristol last month, in which it was concluded that he had died as a result of his health condition, with added complications leading up to his operation.
Mitchell’s sister said the past year had been “really difficult”, particularly leading up to the anniversary of his death. In addition, her mother’s two brother’s of her had both caught Covid and also passed away.
“It’s been a long road and we’re all in it together and support each other,” she said. “Lylah (Mitchell’s daughter) is Mitchell’s two eyes. She’s so funny like Mitchell was. She still talks about him, she looks at the photos and says: ‘That’s my daddy’.”
“He wasn’t just my brother, he was my friend,” Mitchell’s sister said. “The same with David, we were all so close to the three of us. There was never a crossed word with any of us.”
As well as the showing of support on the day of Mitchell’s funeral, many showed their support in a number of different ways. A fundraising page set up to raise funds for Mitchell’s family has raised more than £20,000. And there was another big donation from one of his favorite former Swansea City players, Oli McBurnie.
Inspired to keep his legacy going, Mitchell’s family will launch a charity in his name in April. Called the Mitchell Powell Foundation, it will aim to help support, emotionally and financially, families who are either going through bereavement or with life changing or long term illnesses.
“It is something that is helping massively for myself and my mother,” Mrs Davies Powell said.
“Because Mitchell helped charity practically all his life, we just wanted to carry it on for him and carry his legacy on. It has been a lot of work behind closed doors but it has really helped us remain focused. It’s a positive out of a negative.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.