Second Surgeons episode captures marathon operation

Viewers will get another insight into the cutting-edge operations undertaken at Cambridge’s Addenbrooke’s and Royal Papworth hospitals in Tuesday’s (13 Oct) episode of ‘Surgeons: At the Edge of Life’ on BBC Two.

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Mr Aman Coonar and Professor Charles Malata
Mr Aman Coonar and Professor Charles Malata

In the second episode this month, at Royal Papworth Hospital, senior consultant thoracic surgeon, Aman Coonar, calls on the skills of Addenbrooke’s consultant plastic surgeon, Professor Charles Malata, to undertake a chest wall reconstruction on former builder, Kevin; a complex, marathon procedure that takes 18 hours. 

Backed by a team of 25 colleagues from both hospitals, the pair aim to close a cavity in Kevin’s back that hasn’t healed since he had a cancerous lung removed 17 years ago. The constant flow of fluid makes it impossible to lead a normal life and leaves him feeling miserable. 

Kevin, a grandfather of two from Peterborough, said: “I had been offered this operation a few years ago but put it off owing to the risk involved. In 2019 my quality of life hit an all-time low and both Mr Coonar and Professor Malata were confident they could fix me, so with their reassurances I decided to go ahead with the operation.”

In the same episode at Addenbrooke’s hospital, another highly-challenging operation also requires the skills of different specialists - consultant neurosurgeons, Mr Richard Mannion, consultant ENT surgeon, Patrick Axon, and their expert team.

Their patient, 47-year-old father of four, Gulraiz, has a rare type of tumour called an acoustic neuroma growing at the back of the brain on his hearing nerve. If it’s not removed soon he will not survive.

Patrick’s job is to make a pathway to the tumour by drilling through Gulraiz’s skull from behind his left ear. Richard takes over for several hours of micro-dissection to painstakingly remove it, without damaging Gulraiz’s brain.

The operations follow yesterday’s (Tuesday, 6 Oct) episode featuring a pelvis and hip operation at Addenbrooke’s, which pushed the boundaries of medical science, and a pulmonary endarterectomy (PTE) at Royal Papworth, the only hospital in the UK to undertake such complicated lung surgery.

Mr James Wheeler, divisional director for surgery and consultant colorectal surgeon at Addenbrooke’s, said:

This is a very important and thought-provoking television series. Not only does it give a rare insight into the cutting-edge surgery that goes on here in Cambridge, but it also serves as a tribute to the incredible courage and determination of those patients we treated.

Mr James Wheeler

Mr David Jenkins, Divisional Director for Surgery and Transplant at Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, added:

We carry out complex heart and lung operations every day, with some of the best outcomes internationally and it is a great opportunity to show the public what we can achieve. We are very grateful to patients like Kevin who took part in this filming for sharing their experiences at such a critical time in their lives.

Mr David Jenkins

The next episode of ‘Surgeons: At the Edge of Life, can be seen on BBC Two at 9pm on Tuesday, October 13.