FLYING the flag for St George’s at the London Marathon this year will be 38-year-old Louise Coast-Smith, a former patient of St George’s who wants to raise money for the surgeon who saved her life – Henry Marsh.

Louise became seriously ill six years ago, when she collapsed without warning. Louise was taken to hospital where it was discovered she had a brain tumour.

It was at this point that Louise was introduced to Henry Marsh, one of St George’s specialist neurosurgeons based at the time at Atkinson Morley Hospital in Wimbledon.

Due to the position of the tumour in her brain, Henry agreed to perform an “awake craniotomy” – a six-hour pioneering operation where Louise would be kept awake and lucid whilst the tumour was removed.

During the operation, Henry talked to Louise instructing her to move her left hand or count to ten – questions designed to test the areas of the brain that control language and motor function to ensure as much of the tumour was removed as possible without sustaining damage to the surrounding healthy tissue.

The operation was a success and Louise and her husband Alistair have now gone on to lead happy, healthy lives with their two daughters, Natasha (5) and Rebecca (3).

And, to say thank you to Henry and his team, Louise is now fit and preparing to run the London Marathon.

“How on earth can you even begin to say thanks?” said Louise. “If it wasn’t for that man I’d be dead.”

“When I told him I wanted to run the London Marathon to try and raise money for his research he was delighted. He was almost like a proud father.”

Thanks to Louise’s efforts and generosity, all money raised will go to Henry’s Brain Tumour and Patient Care Fund which will help buy new equipment to aid research into brain tumours and treatment of patients at St George’s.

You can sponsor Louise in her marathon bid by visiting and donating online.

Notes to editors

  1. For more information, please call Liz Woods, Charitable Communications Manager at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, on 020 8725 4522 or e-mail