It really can happen to anyone

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It doesn’t have to be a shock event - it may be something that happens gradually.

Jo Dean is in her early 40s, a fit, bike-riding graphic designer with two young children. Last year she found herself regularly experiencing chest pain during her short cycle commute from inner-city Sydney to the office. A little concerned because she didn’t really believe it was due to lack of fitness, Jo went to her doctor and underwent several tests over a period of a few weeks.

While the initial stress test showed something was amiss, her cardiologist thought the results might have shown a ‘false positive’ due to Jo’s gender, age and good health. However, to be sure, she arranged for Jo to undergo further testing. As the chest pains continued, Jo was sure there was something wrong and arranged to bring her test date forward. Nine weeks after first seeing her GP, Jo’s cardiologist was able to confirm conclusively that her heart was not performing as it should.

With a 90% blockage to her main artery, Jo was diagnosed with coronary artery disease. She needed open heart surgery in the immediate days following the diagnosis, either by the traditional method of cutting open the breastbone, or by the pioneering Da Vinci system of robotic-assisted surgery.

She opted for the minimally invasive robotic technology after her surgeon suggested that she would be a good candidate due to her otherwise good health and the position of the blockage.

This option – a very new surgical practice in Australia – was more expensive than the traditional method and not yet covered by Medicare, and required a longer, more demanding operation with few test cases preceding it. However, the benefits were very appealing – shorter recovery times, minimal scarring and risk of infection, as well as being an ‘off-pump’ procedure – removing the need and risk of putting the patient on a heart-lung machine during surgery.

The operation was scheduled for the following week, May 1 with an estimated 3-6 month full recovery period.

After a successful operation the recovery process began. 8 days in hospital were the toughest part before Jo returned home to recuperate. With regular cardiac rehab, she recovered well, despite a couple of frustrating setbacks where inflammation around the heart caused her excruciating pain.

Jo was in a fortunate position workwise, and had accumulated sufficient sick leave over time to allow her to take all the time she needed to recover. Despite having salary continuance insurance, she did not need to activate it, using only her sick leave entitlements.

She also had Trauma Insurance on which she was able to claim. The payment took a couple of months to be finalised, and this meant that Jo was able to pay her significant medical bills in a timely fashion and not worry about how she was going to find the money to cover them.

Jo returned to her regular work schedule (of 3 days a week) in October.

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This content has been prepared by BT Financial Group – A Division of Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 (‘the Bank’) and is current as at 16 January 2018.

BT Protection Plans are issued by Westpac Life Insurance Services Limited ABN 31 003 149 157 (‘Insurer’), except for Term Life as Superannuation and Income Protection as Superannuation which are issued by Westpac Securities Administration Limited ABN 77 000 049 472 ('WSAL') as trustee of the Westpac MasterTrust ABN 81 236 903 448. The Insurer and WSAL are wholly owned subsidiaries of the Bank.  The Bank and no other member of the Westpac Group (other than the Insurer) guarantee the benefits payable in relation to BT Protection Plans. 

The video provides general advice only and is based on the real life claims experience of Jo, who is a BT Protections Plans customer and BT employee. Jo’s story has been produced with permission and is based on her individual circumstances.  You should read the BT Protections Plans Product Disclosure Statement available at to see if this insurance is right for you.

© BT Financial Group – a Division of Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 AFSL and Australian credit licence 233714.