IF RODEO volunteer Jack Dwan had been anywhere other than the Warwick Showgrounds when a sharp pain left him wincing, he may not be here today to tell the story.
Fortunately for the 75-year-old, he was sitting beside long-time friend and Warwick GP John Kiss at that moment and it very likely saved his life.
Mr Dwan, the grounds committee head at the Warwick Show and Rodeo Society, was driving society president Dr Kiss around the showgrounds on a Sunday, assessing what needed to be done before the rodeo next month.
Dr Kiss said Mr Dwan winced slightly as he drove his ute around the corner near the workshop.
"I said 'What's wrong Jack?' and he said he had a vague pain in his back between shoulderblades,” Dr Kiss said. "He also said the pain was sort of coming through to the front a bit.”
Putting his own volunteer role to the side for a second, his medical training kicked in.
"The pain didn't seem worse when Jack was using a long handle shovel, which didn't suggest cardiac, but I felt it needed checking out.”
Mr Dwan said as Dr Kiss was on holidays, Mr Dwan suggested an appointment be left to the doctor's return.
"John and I have been friends for a long time and John said no, after his holiday wasn't quick enough,” Mr Dwan said. "He asked me to come to the surgery the next afternoon.
"While nothing showed up, John wanted me to have a stress test in Toowoomba. He had to talk me into going.”
Dr Kiss said the heart specialist stopped the stress test after 30 seconds to order an angiogram, which showed seven blocked arteries in the heart walls.
He was referred to a cardiac thoracic surgeon at Wesley Hospital in Brisbane who used veins from elsewhere in Mr Dwan's body to get around the blocked arteries during surgery.
It was about 10 days from the fateful drive around the showgrounds to the operation.
Dr Kiss said as Mr Dwan was fit after a lifetime of hard work and his recovery from the operation was the fastest he had seen.
The dedicated volunteer spent six weeks recovering but is now back to work.