15 Sep 2016

UK man left on waiting list did own DIY surgery

10:11 am on 15 September 2016

A UK engineer who was left with 20cm of surgical stitches inside his body after an operation has performed surgery on himself to remove them.

Graham Smith says he decided to perform surgery on himself because he was desperate.

Graham Smith says he decided to perform surgery on himself because he was desperate. Photo: BBC

Graham Smith admitted he was reckless, but the pain had made him desperate.

"There was a bit of blood and it stung a bit but I was confident in what I was doing," said Mr Smith, of Lancashire.

Aintree Hospital, Liverpool, where he underwent the original surgery, said he had been booked in for an operation on Monday and it would contact him.

The suture was left in Mr Smith's abdomen during a bowel operation 15 years ago, but he did not bring it to the attention of the hospital until 2011, having noticed a length of the stitches protruding through his skin.

'Don't try this'

However, at least two operations to remove it since then had to be cancelled, the hospital has confirmed.

"I tried to do it through the normal channels ... but I had septicaemia," Mr Smith said.

"I didn't make the decision lightly - I was desperate, but I had to take control of it and I was not prepared to sit and die on a waiting list.

"I'm a specialist engineer. I do jobs people can't do, but I'm not a surgeon so don't try this at at home."

The tools he developed were adapted from titanium instruments given to him by a friend who is a dentist.

"I needed to modify them to undo some of the stitches - basically one of the stitches is what's called a surgeon's knot," Mr Smith said.

'Twelve tight knots'

"It was a small lump of nylon protruding from my abdomen. It was only 8mm long with 12 really tight compressed knots.

"I couldn't just cut it off as it might have retracted and I would have been in real trouble so I had to undo these knots one by one and I had to make a few tools to allow me to do this."

Mr Smith added: "I'm a new man. For 15 years I have been hunched over and leaning to the left."

In a statement, the hospital said that before he operated on himself, Mr Smith was informed he could have an appointment with the original surgeon on Monday.

Asked about the advisability of Mr Smith's DIY surgery, the hospital trust responded: "We would always advise that any patient who has concerns such as these seeks clinical advice.

"We will be in touch with Mr Smith to discuss his care."

A spokesman for the Royal College of Surgeons said they would "strongly advise" against anyone performing a surgical procedure on themselves, or someone else.

"If you do try to perform self-surgery without surgical training, there is a high risk that the procedure could go wrong, or damage another part of the body. There is also a possibility of infection."