Published on 10 March 2022
Surgeons at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital performed potentially life-saving surgery using a device specially designed to fit a patient’s anatomy.
The operation has not previously been routinely available in east Kent, and meant retired retail worker Leslie Beddow, 65, could be treated locally rather than having to be referred to a London hospital.
Mr Beddow, who lives in Brook, near Ashford, had a dangerously large aortic aneurysm, a bulge in the main blood vessel from his heart. Medics usually operate if an aneurysm is larger than about five centimetres, and his was around nine centimetres across.
It was detected on a routine screening scan offered to all men over 65.
Mr Beddow said: “I had the scan at the William Harvey Hospital and they were fantastic and explained everything.
“They arranged for me to go to the Kent and Canterbury Hospital that same day so my wife took me home and we quickly packed a bag then drove across.
“It did make me shiver a bit to think about what might have happened if I hadn’t had the scan and the aneurysm had ruptured.”
Surgeons initially hoped to operate within a few days but further scans revealed the shape of Mr Beddow’s aorta meant that traditional stents used to treat the aneurysm would not work. It was also in a location near other main blood vessels, so a traditional stent was not suitable.
Instead, a custom-made part was needed, which would take a few weeks, or the team would need to perform risky open surgery.
Consultant vascular surgeon Sandeep Bahia and Mr Beddow agreed that the risk of waiting for the stent to be made was better than the risk of the open surgery.
Mr Beddow said: “I’ve had two previous heart attacks and they explained it would be very high risk if I had the open surgery, so I was keen to have the bespoke stent fitted.
“The plan was for me to go to St Thomas’s but when it came to it, the consultant Sandeep Bahia explained that they could do it at Canterbury with support from the St Thomas’s team rather than having to go to London.
“Sandeep made me feel very relaxed about it and all the staff who cared for me were incredible – they were so kind and everyone spoke to me like I was a person, rather than just a number.”
The five-hour operation to fit the stent was a success, and Mr Beddow was able to go home two days later.
Mr Bahia said: “Since I joined the team at East Kent Hospitals I have been working with our lead Mr Senaratne to offer these more complex treatments locally to save patients having to travel so far.
“As a large and growing vascular unit it is right that we should offer these treatments locally.
“I asked one of the St Thomas’s consultants, Mr Said Abisi, who has significant experience in this field to help us with the case while our practice becomes more established and he has been very supportive.
“This has also helped take some of the workload away from St Thomas’s who have had high occupancy of their ITU beds as a result of the COVID pandemic.
“The stent company prioritised the manufacture of the stent so it was available in a quicker timeframe than usual and the operation was a success.
“Open surgery would have been very high risk so I am pleased we were able to offer this treatment at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital and Mr Beddow has had an excellent outcome.”
The NHS is currently asking people’s views on proposed changes to vascular services across Kent – for more information or to take part in the consultation visit https://jointheconversation.scwcsu.nhs.uk/vascular-services before midnight on Tuesday, March 15.