'I will always be grateful' - man thanks medics after tumour operation saves use of his legs

Mr Aneiba (centre) with Brian and his wife Bernadette.Mr Aneiba (centre) with Brian and his wife Bernadette.
Mr Aneiba (centre) with Brian and his wife Bernadette.
A hospital patient has thanked NHS staff for saving the use of his legs after major surgery to have a large cancerous tumour removed from his spine was a huge success.

Brian Plant was told by doctors at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust that without emergency surgery he would never walk again.

It was only the bravery of the 55-year-old as well as the skill and expertise of the health team during a challenging six hour operation which stopped him permanently losing the use of his legs.

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The operation involved removing a tumour wrapped around his spinal cord, then fixing several metal plates and spinal cement to hold his lower back in place.

Consultant orthopaedic surgeon Khaled Aneiba, who led the operation, said: “This was one of the most complex operations I’ve carried out and at the trust.

“Brian had a large tumour wrapped all the way around the spinal cord, making it a particularly challenging and unusual procedure.

“Without surgery, we were 95 per cent certain that he would have lost his ability to walk.

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“It’s thanks to his positive attitude that he wanted to have the operation – many people would have opted not to because of the risks.

“If you have a very motivated patient and a fantastic team of staff with you during six hours of surgery, it shows you how much is possible.

“To see Brian shortly after surgery and to see that he still had feeling in his legs and that surgery had been a complete success was a huge achievement. It makes it all worth it – all the hard work has paid off for us and for him. To see an end result like this drives us all on. This is what it is all about – making a real difference to someone’s life.

“He couldn’t walk before the surgery, now to see him walking as normal is fantastic and hugely satisfying.

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“We couldn’t have done this without the hard work of the whole team, whether it’s the anaesthetic team, the haematology team and everyone else involved – they were all incredible.”

Brian first started experiencing pain in his back and visited his GP, who referred him to the trust for an MRI scan and x-ray.

Brian, from Billingham, added: “I had been experiencing a lot of back pain for a while before seeing my doctor. I had a job as a delivery man and it was becoming difficult to lift things and do my job properly.

“After being referred for scans, Mr Aneiba told me they had found a large tumour and that it would need to be removed if I wanted to be able to walk in the future. I was in no doubt I wanted to have the operation.

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“I’m so relieved. The team did a fantastic job and I will always be so thankful to them all.”

Brian has also had chemotherapy treatment at the trust as well as radiotherapy at James Cook University Hospital and a stem cell transplant at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

His wife, Bernadette, said: “Mr Aneiba told Brian before surgery that he had complete faith in him, and we felt exactly the same about him and all of the team who treated him. They believed in him and he had complete belief in them.

“We are so grateful to the whole team. Brian has worked very hard in his recovery not only for himself, but as thanks to the team for the care they gave him.”