Aortic Dissection and the Healing Power of Poetry

David Attree's journey through aortic dissection reveals the transformative power of poetry in facing life's gravest challenges, inspiring resilience and hope.


March 2024

Patient support

through awareness and education


Can Art Save Us?

David Attree’s aortic dissection, due to Marfan Syndrome, significantly shapes his personal and creative life. He details the shocking moment of diagnosis: “The Doctor held up a scan that I’d had. And I’m like, ‘Oh, is that my heart?’ And he’s like, ‘No, that’s your aorta. Wow. It should not be that size. And you have four weeks.'” This moment was a turning point, signalling the fight for survival and a deeper engagement with the preciousness of life.

Dave’s health crisis is intertwined with a familial predisposition to aortic-related issues, highlighted by the tragic loss of his cousin Peter to Marfan syndrome, a condition that Dave and his wider family also live with. His reflection on his surgery, which occurred closely after his mother underwent a similar procedure, highlights the compounded emotional and physical toll on his family.

Aortic Dissection Patient Charity UK&I

Photo credit: David Attree @davidattree

The power of poetry to heal and connect is a recurring theme in Dave’s life. His work with the Poetry Takeaway, where he crafts bespoke poems for strangers, serves as a microcosm of this healing. Describing the process, Dave says, “You have two or three minutes to get ingredients from a random person…and then you write them a poem on the spot…and invariably there’s tears or hugs or laughter.” The power of poetry is to touch lives, to articulate the unspoken, and to bring solace.

Furthermore, Dave’s involvement with the Aortic Dissection Charity and his initiative in organising the Alive event, in collaboration with patient ambassador Bob Harris, emphasises his and the charity’s commitment to raising awareness about aortic dissection and supporting patients facing similar challenges. Through these actions, Dave leverages his experiences and his platform in the arts to contribute to a broader dialogue about this condition, offering support and inspiration to the community.

In essence, Dave Attree’s narrative around his experience with aortic dissection is deeply informative, highlighting the personal impacts of this condition and the importance of awareness, support, and resilience in the face of such health challenges.

The Role of Courage and Curiosity in the Arts

The podcast Can Art Save Us? opens the conversation on the impact of courage and curiosity within the arts, aiming to understand their significance for mental, societal, and democratic health. Through discussions with national and international artists from various disciplines, the podcast explores the potential of the arts to address issues like mental illness, loneliness, community division, and global conflicts. Each episode features personal narratives from artists who have faced significant challenges, using their art as a medium for resilience and change. The podcast covers a wide range of artistic expressions, from hip-hop and architecture to surrealism and dance, providing insights into how art can foster understanding and healing.

Could it be aortic dissection video masterclass

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