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I GOT LIFE-SAVING OP WITH A DUD CHEOUE; Roy, 77, couldn't afford pounds 6k for private surgery.

Byline: By Natalie Walker

AN OAP facing a nine-month wait for heart surgery managed to get private treatment within days by paying with a dud cheque.

By the time it bounced, 77-year-old Roy Thayers had undergone the pounds 6500 op.

The retired painter and decorator hatched his plan after suffering chest pains.

Doctors told him he must have the valves leading to his heart unblocked or risk a fatal heart attack.

Roy said: "I love my budgies, I love my dogs, I love my fishing and I'm not going to die for money.

"I've worked all my life and put my money into the system.

"Life is a great thing - when you've got it you fight for it. I would've robbed the bank to get the money to save my life.

"I gave them a cheque because I knew it wouldn't clear for three days.

"By that time, the operation would be done. I knew it was going to bounce."

His treatment, known as a coronary angioplasty, was carried out at Hammersmith Hospital, West London.

Roy was discharged with no one any the wiser about his bouncing cheque. But before long, he started receiving letters demanding payment, first from the hospital and then from bailiffs.

Roy said: "I had to start off paying them pounds 150 a month but I only get pounds 470 a month for my pension.

"I didn't have enough money to eat. I reduced it so now I pay pounds 25 a month.

"But why should I pay? It's out of order taking money from an old-age pensioner."

Twice-married Roy, who lives alone in Hounslow, will be 99 by the time the debt is cleared.

He blamed his action on the Government for not ensuring OAPs get access to vital NHS treatments.

He said he did not want to ask for help from grown-up children, Tony and Sarah, as he became estranged from them after his divorce from second wife Veronica. His first wife died of cancer.

A hospital spokesman said: "We have done all we can to accommodate Mr Thayers' financial situation.

"Waiting lists for his kind of procedure have now been reduced to an average of around three months."

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CHEST PAINS: Roy
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 2, 2006
Words:370
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