Tuesday, 12 April 2016

I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to The Christie for saving my leg - John Burns

John Burns, Christie patient

John Burns
In the spring of 2015 I noticed a reddish spot on my lower left leg and went to get it checked out. It turned out that a tumour had developed over the previous 12 months, but due to me having Gross Lymphoedema in both legs, the tumor itself was not apparent until approximately six months prior to my referral to Manchester Royal Infirmary for various tests.

Following MRI scans, ECGs, blood tests, x-rays and other tests, my wife and I were told that the tumor was cancerous and that the only two alternatives were amputation of my leg or to try and remove the tumor by surgery. It was stressed that due to the cancer being extremely close to the shin bone it was considered doubtful of a good outcome. In spite of this I was referred to Mr Kosutic at The Christie.

When I met with Mr Kosutic, his first opinion was that amputation seemed the best option, but he and a colleague decided to check with a further scan. They confirmed that the cancer was only a few millimetres away from the shinbone.

Although a little doubtful, Mr Kosutic said he would operate and hopefully save my leg - a very brave decision – but somehow I had every faith in him, and six months later it is so far so good.

Prior to the operation it was explained to me that it would be a rather large wound, and so it turned out to be (19cm long by 14.5cm wide).

After the operation I needed special dressings that were put on in layers, with a 28mm thick sponge in between covering the wound. The outer layer had an outlet attached to a vacuum pump which compressed the dressing and sponge to the wound, and at the same time removed all the blood and lymph fluid, depositing it into a canister which was regularly changed. This marvellous machine allows healing to take place more rapidly.

The dressings were changed every five days for four weeks. This took a great deal of care and an unbelievable amount of patience, skill and good nature on the part of the nursing staff - angels every one of them! After I was discharged, I was transferred to the Bolton District nursing care.

In October 2015 I was re-admitted overnight for a skin graft operation. It went unbelievably well and I stopped using the vacuum pump after 10 weeks. I don't think the wound would have healed so quickly without the pump.

I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to Mr Kosutic for his wonderful skill, the skill of his team both in and out of theatre, and also to all of the nurses and staff on Ward 10 and the Surgical Ward who looked after me during my time at The Christie. Thank you all.

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