Former BBC war correspondent Martin Bell has had his face rebuilt by surgeons at St George’s Hospital in London after a fall on his return from holiday.

Mr Bell, who was a BBC reporter and also Member of Parliament between 1997 and 2001, tripped over the suitcases he was carrying at Gatwick airport in November last year.

He broke major facial bones in the fall, and was first seen at East Surrey Hospital before being immediately transferred to St George’s Hospital for specialist maxillofacial surgery.

Pre-op CT scan of Martin Bell

At St George’s, Mr Bell had an operation carried out by Miss Helen Witherow, Consultant Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon (both pictured).

The two and a half hour operation involved Miss Witherow and her team re-attaching Mr Bell’s upper mouth to his jawbone, and using 4 plates and 16 screws to repair the many different facial fractures he sustained in the fall.

Mr Bell had a short stay in hospital before being discharged home. He also suffered a broken nose in the fall, which was manipulated back into the correct position during the operation by Miss Witherow.

He is being seen in January at St George’s for follow-up and review, but is otherwise fully recovered.

Mr Bell said: “After the accident, I bore a striking resemblance to Dracula’s grandfather. However, the team at East Surrey and St George’s really looked after me, so I am privileged, from personal experience and with a hole in my head, to sing the praises of the nurses, doctors and surgeons who work for and with the Maxillofacial Surgery Unit at St George’s.

“I have not led a sheltered life, but like most people I know little about the specialist branches of medicine until I come to need them, usually at short notice. So it was with Maxillofacial Surgery and the people who practice it – and we are truly lucky to have them.”

Miss Witherow said: “Mr Bell’s injuries required specialist maxillofacial surgery, which St George’s is a centre of excellence for. The surgery involved repairing Mr Bell’s fractures using titanium plates and screws, and these remain in place permanently. We are pleased to hear he is so well, and so positive about his experience of the care our team provided.”

The work of the maxillofacial team is supported by St George’s Hospital Charity. You can find out more about their work here:

Notes to editors

For more information, please contact our press office on 020 8266 6128 or email Chris Rolfe, Associate Director of Communications via