THE widow of a man who died after waiting an agonising three and a half years for a heart operation has spoken of how the couple lived on edge for the call that never came.

Jon Tuvnes was told in October 2009 that he needed a triple heart bypass – but despite promises that he hadn’t been forgotten, he never reached theatre.

He died of heart failure in March last year. He was 69.

The family of Mr Tuvnes, also known as Bonner, has come forward after the Argus revealed that Labour stalwart Councillor Ron Jones had died 15 months after he was told he needed a similar operation.

Around 99 patients in Wales have died on the heart surgery waiting- list within the last five years.

Mr Tuvnes’ widow, Betty Tuvnes, 80, from Bishpool, Newport, said: “We were both convinced they did not want to do Jon’s op, but it would have been better if they had said so we could have enjoyed our last years together.

“Instead we lived on edge waiting for the call that never came.

“Something needs to be done to stop people being treated in such a disgusting way.”

Mr Tuvnes’ step-daughter, Julie Tutton, explained that a cardiologist at the Royal Gwent Hospital, in Newport, had diagnosed in October 2009 that her stepdad needed a triple heart by-pass.

He was told it would be a difficult operation and that he could need a quadruple bypass, but surgeons wouldn’t know until he went in for the procedure.

Mr Tuvnes agreed to go ahead and on May 25, 2010, he went into Cardiff’s University Hospital of Wales to have the operation done, only for it to be cancelled.

“They told him they would give him a call and get him back in as soon as possible,” said Mrs Tutton, 52, of Bettws.

Two years after her husband’s diagnosis, in October 2011, Mrs Tuvnes was told that she needed to have a replacement heart valve.

Mrs Tuvnes’ operation took place in February 2012 – after they were asked by a consultant who of the two should go first.

But her husband continued to wait, and just over a year later his wife found him dead.

The family were never given a reason why there were hold-ups.

Mrs Tutton added: “All we were told was ‘don’t worry about it, he hasn’t been forgotten, we will get him in’.”

Dr Navroz Masani, the clinical board director for specialist services at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, said: “We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to Mrs Tuvnes following the loss of her husband. We are sorry to hear of her concerns.”

Dr Masani said the board couldn’t discuss the details of any patient case, due to confidentiality, but stressed that no patient will have been actively and continuously on a waiting-list for three years.

He said: “In some cases a combination of factors within the service and the patient’s circumstances can lead to the process taking longer than expected.

"While many patients are seen and treated urgently, we are under no illusion that there are those who are facing unacceptable waits and we are working hard to change this.”