Mother's 'miracle' son home after his lifesaving operation
THIS man – described as a miracle by his mother – underwent radical treatment to save his life when his appendix burst and poisoned his body.
When Neil Harrison was taken to the Diana, Princess Of Wales Hospital, Grimsby, after being sick and complaining of stomach pain, his family had no idea that his heart would stop three times and the majority of his internal organs would have to be removed and cleaned twice in the following weeks.
And they also had to endure the horror of the treatment thinning his blood to the point that it was running straight back out of his body as soon as it was transfused.
At one point he wasn't expected to last through the night, and later on, it was unlikely he would be home before Christmas.
But his delighted family have welcomed their "miracle" back already and have set about raising funds for the specialist place where he was treated.
Neil was taken into hospital on Wednesday, May 23, and went into surgery two days later, but surgeons soon discovered that poison produced by the appendix had saturated the 37-year-old's body and intubating him for the procedure had collapsed both his lungs, leaving him in a critical state and in need of urgent specialist medical attention.
His mother, Jane Christy, 56, of Oliver Road, Cleethorpes, said: "I will never forget that Friday, he went in at 4pm and the consultant came to me at 8.30pm saying he was in a critical condition. On the Saturday morning at 3.30am I was taken into a room and was told that my son would die unless he could be taken to a specialist unit at the Glenfield Hospital in Leicester."
Due to Neil's collapsed lungs he needed Extra-Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) treatment.
The new treatment for severe respiratory failure used in Glenfield Hospital involves an artificial lung which oxygenates the blood and takes the breathing process out of the body.
The hospital has the only mobile ECMO service is the country that can transport both adults and children.
Mrs Christy added: "The chief consultant from Leicester and a team of eight others came in a specialist ambulance to collect him, but before they set off Neil had a cardiac arrest.
"Luckily the chief consultant was able to massage his heart back to life. He had another heart attack en route to the hospital but they brought him back again and by the time they got him there he was in a more stable condition.
"Neil was put on an ECMO circuit and was on the machines for 21 days and in a coma for 29 days.
"Two days after being at the unit he had his third cardiac arrest but pulled through once again.
"The thing I noticed the most while he was on the ECMO was that his body didn't move at all.
"When they opened him up they had to take the organs out of his body to wash them because of the poison and they did this twice in four days."
Neil's kidneys also failed and he went on a dialysis machine for three weeks.
The ECMO process thins the blood which causes it to leak from most of the body's orifices.
Mrs Christy said: "On one day they gave him 17 units of blood and in total he was given 48 units in four weeks.
"The blood was going into his body but running straight out. At one point when the blood was not staying in his body they said they didn't think he was going to make it through the night.
"There were a lot of tears and we sat and we waited for the moment but he eventually started to show signs of improvement.
"After being on ECMO for 21 days they decided to take him off.
"His lungs were really damaged and they would only let him breathe four breaths a minute to begin with but they slowly built it up gradually.
"They didn't know if he would be brain damaged but when he finally opened his eyes it was an amazing emotional experience.
"Neil is a miracle – they said that he wouldn't be home before Christmas but he was allowed to come back in the first week of August.
"We couldn't be happier to have him home."
Neil, who suffers from learning difficulties, said: "It has been a long haul for me and I thought I was going to die.
"Coming out of hospital was a dream come true and it is all thanks to my family and the hospital."
Neil's treatment cost £250,000 and to thank the staff in the ECMO unit at Glenfield Hospital, a fundraising event will take place on Friday, November 16.
The event will be a buffet and a disco at the Cromwell Banqueting Suite, in King's Road, Cleethorpes, who have provided the venue and buffet for free.
Tickets cost £6 and all the money goes to the ECMO unit.
For more information, or to buy a ticket, call Jane Christy on 01472 235024 or 07792 730981.