St George’s is one of the largest single-site hospitals in the UK and has one of Britain’s most advanced and busiest A&E departments.
Approximately 400 people visit our emergency department (ED) every day. They come to us seeking care and treatment for a wide range of medical conditions – painful broken limbs, worrying chest pain and alarming allergic reactions to name just a few.
Mark needed our care and treatment in January this year. He had been helping a friend in their garage when he suffered an injury to his chest. A piece of equipment called an angle-grinder, which he had been using, had become lodged in his chest causing severe damage to his heart.
Paramedics on the scene knew immediately how serious this was and rushed him to St George’s for specialist care.
Upon arrival Mark’s heart was beating erratically, a sure sign that it was about to stop and the doctors had very little time to save his life.
The decision was made to perform a rare procedure called an ‘emergency resuscitative thoractomy’ (ERT). This involved opening Mark’s chest up in Resus so that his doctors could assess and hopefully repair the damage to his internal organs. It is a highly invasive operation which carries a very low 7.5% chance of survival. However, it was Mark’s only hope and as the St George’s consultant cardiothoracic surgeons and emergency medicine consultants provide ERT training for South West London they felt confident.
Upon opening Mark’s chest his doctors identified three holes in his heart. They repaired these and closed his chest up in a matter of minutes. It was then a waiting game to see if Mark’s condition would stabilise or whether the damage was too great and his heart would fail.
Time passed and to the happiness of his doctors and family his condition stabilised and he was able to be transferred to intensive care before then making it onto the ward for some recuperation. After just a week in St George’s he was told he was ready to go home with some out-patient occupational therapy sessions booked in.
William Glazebrook, St George’s ED consultant said:
It is amazing to see Mark so well after only one week since being brought to our ED essentially dead. The Trauma Network worked!
The London Ambulance Service brought him straight to St George’s, a Major Trauma Centre and our ED team were fully prepared.
We had been trained to perform this life-saving procedure in the resuscitation room; cardiothoracic surgeons completed the operation in theatres; Intensive Care looked after him post-operatively and he has been crucially rehabbed on Ben Weir ward.
Mark would have definitely died only a few years ago, before the Trauma Network was formed. It takes everyone in the chain to be on point for these patients to not only survive, but to go back to an independent life.
Everyone involved in the care of trauma patients at St. George’s should be very proud.”