Hero doctors perform miracle surgeries on people suffering life-threatening strokes


The race continues for more hospitals to be equipped with the technology to drain the deadly blood clots that cause strokes from the brain and halt catastrophic damage

Finbar Sheaman
Finbar Sheaman collapsed while jogging near his East London home

Doctors are using a groundbreaking new technique to save patients suffering from life-threatening strokes.

Surgeries being performed at a London hospital use a special machine to pull the deadly blood clots that cause the disease from the brain, saving vital time and halting catastrophic damage.

Now the race is on for more hospitals to be equipped with the technology.

It comes as parts of the UK last year reported their highest cases in a decade – and it is feared strokes caused by Covid-19 infections may have driven the rise.

The busiest stroke unit in the country is at the Royal London Hospital – one of only a few of our hospitals to use the pioneering mechanical thrombectomy, a procedure that uses a stent to remove clots from the cerebral artery.

But more is needed to prevent patients from being subjected to a zip code lottery to save their lives.

dr Oli Spooner is a stroke consultant at the Royal London Hospital


Reach Commissioner/Steve Bainbridge)

The team of RLH consultants Paul Bhogal and Oliver Spooner treated 260 stroke patients last year – the highest number ever at a center in England and three times the number in 2020.

They’ve handled cases about 100 miles from Norwich and Peterborough.

dr Spooner said: “Services are under pressure, especially as we emerge from the pandemic. If you live in central London where you have access to mechanical thrombectomy 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you’re in luck.

“The further you move out of London, the more patchy your access becomes.”

Among the 260 operated on last year was Finbar Sheaman.

Finbar Sheaman collapsed while jogging near his East London home


Reach Commissioner/Steve Bainbridge)

The then 40-year-old father suffered a stroke last April while jogging near the hospital in Whitechapel, east London.

Every minute counts for stroke survival, and when he was admitted he was unable to move his right side or process speech.

Within hours, Dr. Bhogal, head of the hospital’s Stroke Mechanical Thrombectomy Network, removed the clot from his brain and restored blood flow to halt the death of millions of cells.

The operation can take less than 20 minutes – saving valuable time for patients, who can lose nearly two million brain cells every 60 seconds during a stroke.

dr Oli Spooner and Mr. Paul Bhogal in the operating room with the biplane


Reach Commissioner/Steve Bainbridge)

Five days later, Finbar was fired from Forest Gate, East London – and after two months he returned to his job as a software engineer.

He is walking again and has a second child on the way with his wife. Finbar said: “I am so happy that the procedure was possible for me so quickly.

“Every hospital should have one of these machines.”

Stroke causes around 38,000 deaths each year and is the leading cause of severe disability in the UK. The consequences of the pandemic threaten to increase the number of deaths from stroke.

dr Spooner and Paul Bhogal with Christine Syer and her husband Stephen at the Royal London Hospital


Reach Commissioner/Steve Bainbridge)

dr Spooner added: “There is an issue in people with severe Covid where you can form clots in your arteries, leading to strokes.

“In early 2021 this caused a huge problem.” We were given a tour of the £1.5million two-level angiography suite, which performs mechanical thrombectomies. However, doctors’ goal to treat more patients this year is being hampered by delays in ambulances.

Response times for diseases like stroke have averaged over 51 minutes over the past month — triple the 18-minute target. dr Spooner, 38, said: “The expansion we are hoping for will be limited by ambulance pressure.

“This time-sensitive transfer is so crucial. Saving valuable minutes means more patients are being treated.”

While official stroke figures for England have yet to be released, Public Health Scotland in January reported an increase to 2,180 in 2021 – the highest number since 2016.

The total number of strokes reported was 9,352, the highest in a decade.

The NHS aims to expand access to mechanical thrombectomy from 1% to 10% of stroke patients in the coming years.

It said this would allow 1,600 more people a year to be independent after suffering one.

dr Bhogal, 42, believes the procedure, which is given alongside anticoagulant drug thrombolysis, is “incredibly inexpensive.”

The consultant, who has performed more than 400 mechanical thrombectomy surgeries, warned doctors could “burn out” if steps aren’t taken to expand supply.

The biplane is used to perform a mechanical thrombectomy


Reach Commissioner/Steve Bainbridge)

he and dr Spooner called for greater investment in mechanical thrombectomy to improve patient access across the UK.

Her department is raising funds to purchase a second two-plane angiography machine so the hospital can expand to treat 500 patients a year.

dr Bhogal added: “The aim is to have fairly good, if not 100 per cent, 24/7 coverage in England over the next few years.”

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https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/hero-doctors-perform-miracle-operations-27147764 Hero doctors perform miracle surgeries on people suffering life-threatening strokes

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