A GRANDAD who has smoked since his school days is now facing a life-or-death operation.
Les Swain, of Kipling Place, Great Harwood, was told he faces a massive heart attack without a triple heart bypass, but an abdominal aortic aneurism diagnosed 15 months ago could rupture fatally while he is under the knife.
Les, 54, requires operations on both his heart and the two-inch-wide aneur-ism, and he is now waiting to hear from surgeons to see whether the by-pass op can be conducted at the same time – a procedure he claims is extremely dangerous.
Teetotaller Les, whose whole family has smoked, has lost three sisters prematurely to cancer, one aged just 32, while his mother, father and brother Michael all died of heart attacks.
And on National No Smoking Day on Wednes-day, Les warned smokers not to wait until they are faced with ill health before they decide to quit.
He said: "The only vice I’ve had is I’ve been a smoker. You think you’re invincible when you’re a young guy. You can have an attitude as much as you like but it won’t save your life.
"Why do you have to wait until you’ve got life-threatening illnesses before you decide to give up smoking?"
Les claims he used to smoke "one or two" when he was younger, but began smoking up to 30 or 40 a day over 20 years ago after beco-ming a full-time carer for his son Karl, who suffered a serious accident as a child, and his disabled wife Rita.
At the same time he gave up drinking because of the need to act as a driver at short notice.
But Les’s routine was turned upside down in December 2006 when the extent of his health problems became clear.
He explained: "I went for a game of snooker on a Sunday evening. I’d been feeling strange all day.
"I went to the toilet and suddenly there was blood.
"They gave me an ultrasound scan on my stomach and found the aneurism.
"I was in hospital for five days."
Les, who has suffered from chest pains for up to five years but blamed them on cigarettes, was diagnosed with hypertension and angina.
He said: "My son Daniel has taken over the caring role now. Basically all I can do for Rita now is drive the car. I cannot even carry the shopping."
But Les, who now uses a nicotine inhaler after recently quitting cigarettes altogether, has vowed that if the operations are a success he will never go back to smoking.
He added: "What’s the point of me going on the table and going through hours of the operation for me to throw it down the drain?
"I’ve got two beautiful grandsons, and my four- year-old comes to me and says: ‘Grandad, don’t smoke’.
"If you are given a second chance you have to take it."