Graham Smith, an engineer from Lancashire, England, was recently in the news for performing surgery on himself to remove eight millimeters of stitches left by surgeons inside his body years ago, after operations to correct it were cancelled twice.
Smith had underwent bowel surgery 15 years ago, and was left with stitches protruding through the skin on his abdomen. He first brought up the issue with the hospital where he had the original surgery in 2011, but he was put on a waiting list and an operation to fix the problem was cancelled twice. Rather than waiting for his turn and risk of dying of septicaemia, the crafty engineer decided to operate on himself, using modified titanium instruments he sourced from a dentist friend.
“I tried to do it through the normal channels… but I had septicaemia,” Mr. Smith told the BBC. “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.”
Photo: BBC video screengrab
Regarding the wire protruding through his abdomen, Graham said it was a lump of nylon 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,” he said in a recent interview. “There was a bit of blood and it stung a bit but I was confident in what I was doing.”
Believe it or not, the surgery was a success, and Smith says that after 15 years he now feels like a new man. The original operation had left him “hunched over and leaning to the left”, but he managed to fix the problem by meticulously removing the botched stitching.
“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,” he cautioned anyone contemplating DIY surgery. A spokesman for the Royal College of Surgeons also said that they would “strongly advise” against people performing surgery on themselves or others. “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,” they said.
Aintree Hospital, in Liverpool, where Graham Smith had his original surgery, said in a statement that he he had been booked in for a consultation last Monday and that it would contact him about his care.
Graham is certainly not the first and probably not the last person to attempt operating on themselves. Back in 2011, we posted the story of Wu Yuanbi, a Chinese woman who performed surgery on herself using an ordinary kitchen knife due to not being able to afford a proper clinical procedure.