Jimmy Barnes opens up about his fight to survive

"I thought I was gone."

Jimmy Barnes has opened up about the life-threatening bacterial infection that led to his emergency open heart surgery in December 2023.

The beloved Australian singer recently appeared on 60 Minutes, where he spoke candidly of his recovery and the challenges he faced.

“Your best friend is a pillow. If you cough, it’s just agony. If you breathe too deep, it’s agony. And sneezing would be the end of you.

“But I think it’s made me stronger. I want to be better than I was. I’ve got all this new life from this and I want to make the best of it. I want every minute to count.”

When symptoms first arose, Jimmy admitted to pushing through the pain, even to the extent of performing a live show.

The following day he checked himself into a Sydney hospital.

“I just said to Jane, ‘I don’t think I’m gonna make it’. I just had this horrible morbid feeling because I’ve never felt this sick before. I thought I was gone.”

Although initially presenting with pneumonia, the doctors soon realised the cause of his pain was an infection that if left untreated, would be fatal.

The former Cold Chisel frontman spoke candidly to 60 Minutes of his thought process before entering into the seven-hour procedure that would save his life.

“I just thought, ‘you have to savour those moments; have I told my children that I love ’em enough? Have I told Jane?”

On December 13, the Working Class Man singer broke his silence, and wrote a lengthy statement, revealing to the public that he was set to undergo heart surgery.

“Unfortunately, I got some bad news late yesterday… despite everyone’s best efforts, the bacterial infection I’ve been battling over the last fortnight has now apparently spread to my heart,” Jimmy began.

“It’s infected an otherwise healthy valve that was replaced some years ago due to a congenital defect, so I’ll be getting open heart surgery over the next few hours to clear out this infection and put in a clean valve,” he continued.

“As you can hopefully appreciate, this has all happened very suddenly so it’s going to take a few days for everyone to figure out what’s going to be doable with my upcoming shows. I’m really sorry for all the inconvenience this will cause…”

Finally, Jimmy thanked his wife, doctors and nurses before wishing everyone a happy new year.

“I’d like to thank my darling Jane for her around the clock love and care over the last few weeks in particular – as always, I’d be lost without her. I’d also like to thank the Doctors and Nurses who’ve been amazing… Given the serious nature of this operation I probably won’t be posting again for the next few weeks so all the best to you and yours for the holidays. Here’s hoping 2024 is full of much better things!”

jimmy barnes

Jimmy has always been quite candid with his fans when it comes to his health; for example, he openly talked about the emergency hip surgery he had to have in late 2022.

And his wife has been updating fans with Jimmy’s progress since having heart surgery; Jane said he’s expected to make a full recovery and that “things are getting back to normal.”

Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery!

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