Patient who became a TV star in his sleep
AS the girl who faints at the sight of anything remotely gory the idea of watching an operation filled me with dread.
But dressed in a set of green scrubs and a fetching hair net I made my way into one of Derriford Hospital's brightly-lit operating theatre's where I was to confront one of my biggest fears – blood and guts.
Retired civil servant John Loch, 68, had kindly allowed me to watch him have his rectal tumour removed as part of a high profile keyhole surgical showcase event organised by Lapco, the national training programme in laparoscopic colorectal surgery.
As Mr Loch, who lives near Tavistock, was wheeled into theatre, having already been anaesthetised, the reality of what was about to happen hit me.
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A team of six theatre staff began preparing Mr Loch for surgery, placing him onto a gel mat and strapping his shoulders, sides and legs in place.
Hooked up to a heart machine and breathing monitor I was told by colorectal consultant Mark Gudgeon, who was carrying out the operation, that Mr Loch had been put into a state of paralysis for the procedure to allow him access to his abdomen.
As an orange wash was placed onto Mr Loch's skin to sterilise the area, large sterile bags were placed over his legs and blue sheets draped over almost every inch of his body, except the stomach area.
And then it began.
Incisions were made in Mr Loch's abdomen enabling Mr Gudgeon to insert the camera and tools, and the operating bed was moved so that Mr Loch's head was pointing towards the floor, allowing the organs to move out of the way.
As the theatre team began to fill Mr Loch's abdomen area with air, to give them room to work, the camera went live and cameras beamed pictures of the operation to around 100 health professionals sitting in the lecture theatre at The Radiology Academy.
High definition images of Mr Loch's insides were broadcast onto two screens within theatre, one of which was used by the surgeon to allow him to see what he was doing with the 20 inch tools he was carefully manoeuvring.
With incredible precision and amazing hand-eye coordination Mr Gudgeon made his way through a maze of bowel, past the pancreas and finally arrived at the large cancerous polyp within 15cm of Mr Loch's rectum.
Speaking after the successful three-and-a-half hour operation, consultant surgeon Mark Coleman, who was running the masterclass, said: "The operation went to our perfect satisfaction and the medical delegates who were watching gave Mr Gudgeon a 95 per cent score which was excellent.
"From the cancer point of view there is a very high chance that we have cured Mr Loch and he certainly had the best possible operation."