Tony Palmer’s Journey

Before anyone treks Kokoda with Australian Kokoda Tours, our trekkers undertake a compulsory medical assessment to ensure that they are up for the challenge. We take pride and care in making sure all of our trekkers can successfully complete Kokoda.

In June last year, Tony Palmer took part in the St Joseph’s College Geelong school trek with his son Jacob. Tony’s pre-trek medical assessment revealed that he had a heart murmur, meaning he needed to be referred to a cardiologist for further testing to investigate.

Tony received formal medical clearance prior to flying out to Papua New Guinea to take on Kokoda. Tony and Jacob had a fantastic time at Kokoda together with Australian Kokoda Tours and St Joseph’s College. Tony says that it’s “certainly something we will both remember for the rest of our lives”.

In December last year, Tony returned to his cardiologist for further testing, including an echo-doppler test. The results showed that his aortic valve had deteriorated, and he was referred directly to a Cardiothoracic Surgeon. Tony was booked in for surgery soon after to replace the valve.

Tony had heart surgery on January 30 this year to replace his aortic valve. He now has a mechanical valve, which will hopefully last for the rest of my life. Tony is now recovering at home and is still a couple of weeks away from returning to work. If it were not for the first medical Tony undertook in June before Kokoda, his heart murmur may have never been picked up.

Tony wanted to wish Mick and Australian Kokoda Tours Porter Ian thanks again for his Kokoda experience:

“I wanted to thank you both again, along with St Joseph's, for the opportunity to participate in the Kokoda trek last year. As it turns out, if I had not had a medical at the time, there may have been dire consequences for me. The medical advice I have received indicates that I would have most likely had a heart attack if I had not had my valve replaced when I did. Given that I was not experiencing any symptoms, there was no real way in which I would have become aware of the issue had I not had a full medical when I did. It just makes you realise that some of the little decisions you make in life can have huge ramifications later on.

“… I have made a good recovery and am doing weekly rehab to get myself back to a decent level of fitness. I also have to take a blood thinning medication, Warfarin, every day for the rest of my life in order to reduce the risk of clotting associated with the mechanical valve.  However, this is a minor issue compared with the alternative. 

“Thanks again to you both for providing me and Jacob with a life changing-experience and, in my case, a lifesaving one. I look forward to catching up with you both at some stage in the near future.” 

Thank you, Tony, for keeping us updated on your post-Kokoda journey, and we wish you all the very best for your continued recovery.

Tony Palmer and his son Jacob at Kokoda, June 2018.

Tony Palmer and his son Jacob at Kokoda, June 2018.