Nwankwo Kanu recalled the day his wife Amara saved his life and then nursed him back to health. After putting their three children to bed, the Arsenal legend and his wife were enjoying the peace and quiet.
They were about to go to sleep, but the former striker’s hammering heartbeat was keeping Amara awake. She recalls: “His heartbeat sounded much louder than normal. I was listening to his chest and it sounded odd.”
In 1996, Kanu had needed lifesaving open-heart surgery after being diagnosed with a heart valve defect. Amara, 30, couldn’t shake the niggling feeling that was something wasn’t quite right and insisted her husband get it checked immediately.
Kanu, now 40, says: “She was saying I should go for a check-up so I took her advice.” And Amara was proved right because experts told him there was further damage to his heart and he urgently needed a second operation.
“It was the same faulty valve,” she says. “It was like a ticking time bomb. It’s just one of those things we were lucky to find out.” Not only did she save his life, Amara also nursed him back to health.
Kanu’s first open-heart surgery was in 1996 after a routine medical examination at Inter Milan revealed the serious heart defect. He was a professional athlete at the top of his game and had just helped Nigeria win gold at the Olympics.
It was a complete shock but Kanu says: “Now I know that being fit and strong doesn’t make your heart 100%.”
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