Read patient stories from the Lister Hospital

Patient stories

Mrs Al-Aibaini came to The Lister Hospital directly from Kuwait six months ago. She had been in intensive care for one year, after experiencing a stroke that had left her unconscious and unable to move the left side of her body. At that time, she had a tracheostomy or breathing tube and was attached to a ventilator to help her to breathe. Her family was given very little hope that she would improve or breathe for herself again.

When she arrived at The Lister Hospital, we assessed Mrs Al-Aibaini and worked hard to improve her breathing. Over time, we have reduced the support she needed from the ventilator and eventually removed her breathing tube. Mrs Al-Aibaini has made fantastic progress. She is now alert, free from the breathing machine and able to talk with her family. She no longer requires anything to help her eat – she can again enjoy eating and drinking when she wants to.

We continue to work hard on rehabilitating Mrs Al-Aibaini and getting her back to her best. Some of the consequences of her stroke persist, she is still very weak on her left side, but with regular physiotherapy, she is building her overall strength and developing her coordination.

We are delighted with the progress Mrs Al-Aibaini has made during her six month stay with us. We are now looking forward to making plans for her to return home with her family in the coming month.

“I trusted the entire team: they’re at the top of their game and excel in what they do”

“Having been diagnosed with a rare sacrococcygeal teratoma (a tumour in the base of the spine by the tailbone (coccyx)) as a child, Judith was left with abnormal bowel habits in adult life. In an attempt to improve her symptoms and quality of life, she had an ileostomy created, bringing the end of the small intestine up to the surface of the abdomen (stoma). Unfortunately this resulted in the development of a large parastomal hernia, which is a type of incisional hernia that occurs at the site of the stoma or immediately adjacent to the stoma. An attempt to repair this in April 2011 failed.

In January 2012 Judith, a primary school teacher, was no longer able to work and naturally felt very despondent with her loss of career and increasing physical impairment. She decided to have major abdominal wall surgery in an attempt to improve both her quality of life and repair the highly complex abdominal malformation.

With the backing of her supportive GP, Judith searched the internet for the most experienced surgeons in the field of complex abdominal reconstruction: surgeons at her local hospital didn’t have the necessary expertise. Judith found Mr Arj Shankar and Mr David Floyd online, and after a discussion with their secretaries, she booked an appointment.

At Judith’s initial consultation with Mr Shankar and Mr Floyd it was decided to perform a complex abdominal wall reconstruction to repair the parastomal hernia, a subtotal colectomy to remove part of the colon and a bilateral oopherectomy (Judith had sizable ovarian cysts). Surgery was scheduled for October 2012.

With the date fast approaching, Judith explains:  “I was terrified. I’m naturally cautious of all medical institutions but knew it was something I had to undertake. I felt that I was doing the right thing. My family and I decided to arrive at the hospital prior to surgery and from the second we arrived staff could not have been more accommodating. I felt secure, comfortable and in control of my situation. Mr Shankar and his team explained the surgery at length and if sometimes I felt too saturated with medical information it was never a problem to stop, and resume discussion when I felt ready.”

“I trusted the entire team,” Judith continues. “They’re at the top of their game and excel in what they do. They evidently respect one another. I was never made to feel as if I was asking a silly question; which put me at considerable ease. The team had such confidence in what they were doing and as a result I was never in any doubt.”

After the six hour operation, which was a great success, Judith spent five days recovering in a High Dependency Unit (HDU) before returning to the ward. After a total of 13 days in hospital, Judith was discharged and spent the following three months recuperating at home. Resulting check-ups were satisfactory and she was discharged from the medical team’s care. Judith has happily made a successful recovery and has gained a new lease of life: “There is no comparison to my old life. My job as a teacher is both hard work and physically demanding and I have been able to return to work, which gives me immense pleasure. I now work four days per week; sometimes I feel tired and am careful about overdoing it but overall I feel much more confident about life again.”

The Lister Hospital team provided an excellent standard of service that I have never experienced in any other hospital.

“It was back in February 2014 when Mrs Muraji’s treatment at The Lister Hospital began, following a referral from her local private hospital. Since having a laparoscopic cholecystectomy (removal of gallbladder) plus multiple attempts to repair a recurrent hernia, Mrs Murarji had become increasingly unwell. Upon further investigation at The Lister Hospital, it was discovered that the mesh that had been previously inserted was now infected, causing fever and pain. Under the care of Mr Arjun Shankar, Consultant General Surgeon and Dr Inaki Bovill, Consultant in Elderly Medicine, it was agreed that Mrs Murarji needed to undergo an abdominal wall reconstruction with removal of the infected mesh.

The prospect of having major surgery both scared and worried Mrs Murarji, although she accepted that it was necessary; after months of ill health there was no looking back. Mrs Murarji credits The Lister Hospital’s nursing staff with reassuring her that all would be ok ahead of the procedure: “The nurses were brilliant and so supportive. I can’t fault them”.

Once the infection had been treated and was subsequently under control, the date for surgery was scheduled for 3 April at The Lister Hospital. The abdominal wall was intricately reconstructed using biological mesh; Mrs Murarji then spent four nights on the Critical Care Unit before returning to the ward. Mrs Murarji highly recommends The Lister Hospital staff that treated her, saying: “The all-round care I received was excellent. Everyone from the catering staff, who came to visit me daily to discuss my dietary needs, to the radiographers in the Imaging department, were kind and considerate. I was treated very well; I even received flowers when feeling low – I can’t thank them enough”.

Mrs Murarji observed the excellent communication between the surgeons that operated on her, Mr Shankar and Mr Floyd, along with Dr Bovill who provided her medical care: “The whole team were fantastic. As a network the hospital runs very efficiently. But most importantly they included my family in all discussions when present which was of great value to me. Dr Bovill and Mr Shankar were always at the end of the telephone line if I needed advice. Everybody joined hands to help me out.”

Once she was well enough to leave the hospital, Mrs Murarji spent a further three weeks recovering before feeling back to her old self. “I am taking things very easy now, but all my previous symptoms have disappeared. I am very lucky to have such a supportive family to assist me in my recovery - and to know that the team at The Lister Hospital are on-hand should I need any questions answering. This completes the excellent standard of service that I have never experienced in any other hospital”.

‘The staff were all fantastic. I received one to one care which couldn’t be bettered.’

Mrs Lesley Bell was admitted to The Lister Hospital in May 2014 under the care of Mr Shankar and Mr Floyd to undergo an abdominal wall reconstruction. The previous year had been somewhat tumultuous for Lesley: having had a large incisional hernia repair with mesh at her local NHS hospital in 2013, she had subsequently developed an intestinal leak that resulted in peritonitis and sepsis. So great was the protrusion from the hernia, Lesley was not only in extreme discomfort but also living with the knowledge that her intestines were ‘leaking’. Treatment therefore was intensive, Lesley required additional therapy in intensive care to reduce the infection; and further surgery was necessary to repair the trauma caused by her damaged intestine.

Having made the decision to undertake surgery at The Lister Hospital under the care of Mr Shankar and Mr Floyd, Lesley was undoubtedly nervous due to the serious nature of her previous emergency admissions to hospital. “Coming back into hospital for further surgery was a daunting experience. But Mr Shankar and Mr Floyd exuded such confidence. I felt secure in their hands and once I arrived at The Lister for my surgery, I actually relaxed. Moreover, I wasn’t nervous as I approached the anaesthetic room. My anaesthetist was outstanding: charming but with a very professional attitude, his duty of care and expertise put me at ease straight away.”

After five hours in theatre and surgery successfully complete, Lesley spent three nights on the Critical Care Unit before being transferred back to the ward. “The staff were all fantastic,” recalls Lesley. “They were almost telepathic in their ability to anticipate my needs. The nurses really wanted to help and if I rang the call bell I wouldn’t have to wait for more than a couple of minutes, which was in complete contrast to my experiences at the local hospital. I received one to one care which couldn’t be bettered: there was never a quibble or a problem. The catering staff in particular provided an excellent service, and were so upbeat.” Lesley received daily physiotherapy during her two week stay. Julia, her physiotherapist, provided the motivation necessary to greatly enhance Lesley’s confidence.

Once discharged from The Lister Hospital, Lesley made steady progress in her recovery. “It’s still a work in progress but I feel so much more physically confident since my surgery. Thanks to the skill of the surgeons, my life has now changed beyond comparison. Mr Shankar and Mr Floyd really are at the top of their game. Their expertise is unrivalled.”

After his father died from cancer of the oesophagus and bowel cancer, Darren Barnes decided it would be prudent to have a check up himself. The first colonoscopy was clear but he was advised to have a check-up every five years; earlier this year an examination revealed some anomalies requiring more investigation and so he was sent for a CT scan.

He went back a week or two later for the results. “I wasn’t expecting to be told I had an eight centimetre mass which the doctor said ‘ought to come out sharpish!’ He mentioned the cancer word and things became a blur,” said Darren, who is now 42.

“I was in bits. Those ten days before I had more investigations were awful. I have a wife and two young kids – you can imagine.”

“I was sent to UCL and told I was going to be seen by Mr Arjun Shankar and so I activated my private medical insurance. Soon I was having tests at the Harley Street Clinic and then a date for the operation at The Lister Hospital was arranged. It was very quick but time for me to organise my affairs – just in case anything happened.”

Darren Barnes had a large tumour around his kidney and aorta. Mr Shankar organised a team to assist with the complex, lengthy operation which included the removal of the affected kidney.

 “The nurses at The Lister Hospital were excellent. I was in the Critical Care Unit for seven days and the staff were absolutely brilliant.” After another eight days on the ward, Darren went home and began the long journey back to good health. “Slowly but surely I am getting well again and I am now, three months on from the operation, able to walk my labrador for an hour or so each day, as well as mow the lawn!  People can’t believe it!

“I was very lucky that I had Mr Shankar and the team he put together including Professor David Nicol and all the others.  Every one of them is at the top of their game. I am so grateful to them all. They gave me confidence and they helped me through this.  The staff were fantastic; I can’t thank them all enough! Now I can look forward to having a holiday with my wife and kids and then going back to work.”

Mr Shankar said Darren Barnes was extremely lucky the cancer was discovered when he still had no symptoms. “His was a rare tumour and it was a complex operation. But it illustrates how we quickly put together a team. All the people we are working with are team players and that is so much better for patients – so much safer.”

“Working as a multidisciplinary team, a team with medical leadership and with rigorous auditing; it all translates into better outcomes for the patients.  We have excellent, very modern facilities and critical care here at The Lister Hospital and we are now providing a 24 hour service for referring doctors and world-class care for their patients,” he said.

A keen lover of a wide range of sports, from skiing through to tennis, Juliet lived a very active life with only one drawback: lasting damage to both her knees. With her medical insurance fast expiring, Juliet opted to have both knees operated on simultaneously at The Lister Hospital under the care of Mr Andrew Davies. “I cannot praise Mr Davies enough,” enthuses Juliet. “His pre-operative assessment was incredibly thorough. I didn’t feel at all nervous as the date fast approached because I was so well prepared.”

Within 18 days, Juliet’s surgery was scheduled. Here she recalls her first impressions of her admission to The Lister Hospital:

“The Lister Hospital is a beautiful red brick building, on the banks of the Thames. It has incredible views over both the river and Battersea Park and when I first saw my room, I was utterly overwhelmed. It was, in fact a 3-room corner suite, consisting of bedroom, sitting room and en-suite bathroom, with large windows on both sides, looking straight down the river and beyond. All the staff told me it was their favourite room in the building and how lucky I was to have it, so I was quite sad to learn I would only be here for a short time.”

The surgery itself was successful and went without a hitch. Juliet underwent bilateral knee arthroscopies with debridement, chondroplasty and lateral release. When she returned to her room, a little sedated, Juliet noticed that, with the sun streaming through her windows onto the china-laden coffee table, it resembled more a high tea at the Ritz than a hospital bedroom!

During her one night stay, The Lister more than exceeded its reputation as a leading hospital. “The entire experience had the ‘wow’ factor – it was completely wonderful,” says Juliet. “The process ran smoothly and without fault. All staff, from nurses through to the catering team, were generous, sweet and incredibly accommodating.”

After her eight week recuperation, Juliet’s quality of life improved significantly. “The surgery changed my life; the difference was amazing, and I was able to play all the sports I enjoyed before. I would highly recommend The Lister Hospital to anyone in the blink of an eye. I think the biggest difference that I’ve noticed is that other hospitals, by comparison, are simply unable to be as generous with their time: the Lister staff were very thoughtful in reassuring and explaining what was happening, every step of the way. The aftercare was second to none, with a physiotherapy regime that was challenging but ultimately beneficial, and a highly recommended surgical team who I could contact, at any time, if I needed advice. I cannot praise Mr Davies, and The Lister Hospital, enough.

Suffering from headaches for almost four weeks, Mr M had sought the advice of his G.P who immediately referred him to Lister Hospital Consultant Neurologist Dr Dominic Paviour.

Dr Paviour comments that, “I saw him within 24 hours of his G.P referral. There were no real worrying features but he mentioned an occasional fever and had never suffered with headaches before so I booked an MRI which he had within 24hours. The consultant Neuroradiologist phoned me personally explaining that the scan showed a brain abscess; I then spoke with Neurosurgeon Professor Ashkan and between us we arranged admission to hospital within a few hours and on the Saturday morning had a STEALTH MRI guided biopsy of the lesion, confirming an abscess.”

Mr M was promptly treated with intravenous antibiotics for the cerebral abscess.

Says Mr M, “When I came in to see Dr Paviour about my headaches I had no idea at all that they were caused by a brain lesion. The severity of the situation didn’t hit me until afterwards. Had it not been for the prompt diagnosis, the outcome may have been very different, as the lesion was growing in size. I feel extremely lucky to be here; there is no better place to be.”

Dr Paviour agrees: “Crucially, without the network of HCA sites and the rapid access to specialist opinions from trusted colleagues, investigations, treatment, and theatre time, this would have been impossible. This is the first case that I have had at an HCA site that truly needed emergency treatment as this is not a frequent in out-patient neurological practice”

“The support I’ve received has been tremendous,” enthuses Mr M. “There are a total of eight specialists that have been involved in my care, any one of which visit me on a daily basis which is incredibly reassuring. I feel that all the staff have done everything that they possibly can for me; the care and attention I have received has been outstanding”.

Mr M is currently completing his successful treatment as an inpatient before imminent discharge.

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