Mark Ford, 46, underwent the major operation in March 2016 after being diagnosed with heart disease when he was at the peak physical condition.
He was told a birth defect had left one of his heart’s valves malfunctioning, a potentially deadly condition to live with - especially with his day job as a steel worker and his passion for bodybuilding.
The cardiologist told him to stop with his training.
But after surgery, which was complicated by a collapsed lung, he was determined to get back to where he was.
Mark says he’s lucky to be alive as if his condition went undetected he would have died.
He completed in regional competitions earlier this year in both the BNBF and UKDFBA qualifiers - and he won both.
Mark will now compete in the national competitions in Leicester on October 16 and in Leatherhead on October 31.
He told the Chronicle: “This year I’ve entered two different federations and I won both qualifiers.
“I’ve been into bodybuilding my whole life but the challenge was to see if I’d be able to get my body back into condition after the surgery and I did - it’s just snowballed from there.
“I’m really excited about it because it’ll be a big thing to win both competitions.”