Former New Zealand allrounder Chris Cairns has spoken for the first time since having an emergency surgery following a major heart problem. In a video he posted on Twitter, the 51-year-old mentioned he was "grateful to be here", although it remains "a long, long road ahead".

"Just about six weeks ago I suffered a Type A aortic dissection which essentially means there's a tear in one of my arteries of the heart," he said in the video message. "I had several surgeries and grafts, and very thankfully, the specialists were able to save the heart itself."

Cairns had surgery in Canberra after a "major medical event" in August but the seriousness of his condition required him to be transferred to St Vincent's in Sydney for another operation. He was soon off life support following the surgery, and was even "able to communicate with his family from hospital in Sydney", as quoted by his lawyer Aaron Lloyd. But just days later, he was left paralysed in his legs after suffering a stroke in his spine after surgery.

"One of the complications that arose was a spinal stroke, which in itself will provide me with possibly the greatest challenge I've ever faced in rehab going forward," he said. "Huge thanks to the team here at Canberra Hospital, to St Vincent's in Sydney, the surgeons, the doctors, the nurses, the specialists - you saved my life.

"Thanks also to all the well wishes that have been sent through to Mel, my wife, and I. Uplifting, humbling and so, so special."

Cairns, the son of former Test player Lance Cairns, played 62 Tests and 215 ODIs for New Zealand between 1989 and 2006.