Lives saved at the double

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A SHEFFIELD neurosurgeon and his colleagues were praised this week after they operated on two boys simultaneously to save their lives.

Saurabh Sinha and his team opened two theatres at the Children’s Hospital to carry out emergency brain surgery.

One of the boys, Owen Wilkinson, then eight, was taken to Sheffield by ambulance after what had seemed a minor fall in the school playground in Barnsley.

His mum, Caroline, who is deputy head at his school, said: “Owen insisted he was fine after the fall but later he became quiet and then started to feel sick. Myself and his class teacher thought it was probably a concussion but that he should be checked out, so I took him to Barnsley Hospital.

“When I was told Owen had a skull fracture and a severe bleed on the brain, it was as though I was in an imaginary bubble; you never think it will happen to your child. “Your initial thoughts are ‘will he survive?’ Thankfully the support which staff gave me at Barnsley ensured that I remained positive and took things a step at a time.”

When Owen was transferred to the Children’s Hospital, Caroline realised the seriousness of the situation but “knew we were in the best hands”.

While Caroline and husband Mark awaited news of Owen, they met another couple whose 12-year-old son had been rushed to surgery with the same condition.

“What was even more incredible was that Mark recognised the other boy’s father from football,” said Caroline. “When we realised that the boys needed the same emergency operation it made us even more anxious about them.”

Mr Sinha and his team were able to save both boys’ lives.

“When we were told that Owen was out of theatre and being taken to the intensive care unit, the relief was unbelievable. We were told Owen was a very lucky boy and he was doing really well.

“It’s amazing we’ve got a specialist hospital nearby, who knows what could have happened if his journey had been further. Saving two lives like that at the same time takes such a highly skilled and dedicated team and we thank them all from the bottom of our hearts.

“We wouldn’t have Owen today without their care and dedication. These people are special in every way, Dr Sinah and his team are dedicated professionals who go beyond the call of duty and perform miracles on a weekly basis.

“I’m still in contact with the other boy’s mum and we’re hoping to take both boys out together at some point.”

Owen’s family are so grateful that they have raised almost £4,000 for The Children’s Hospital Charity for specialist operating theatre equipment.

New endoscopic instruments will enable surgeons to perform neurosurgery through the nose, allowing the neurosurgeons to operate without cutting through the skull and therefore not leaving a scar. It will also minimise the amount of pain and reduce the length of stay in hospital.

Saurabh Sinha is one of very few UK paediatric neurosurgeons whose team performs this kind of operation on children.