Patient presents doctor with bill - of the quacking variety
16 July 2012

A Tameside Hospital patient has given a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘chip off the old’ block after carving a sculpture of thanks with a block of wood he’s had since 1978.

Tom Ford, from Hyde, presented the carved mallard to consultant surgeon Mr Karim B Muhammad who performed the successful operation to treat a ‘fistula’ – a hole between the bowel and bladder which can lead to potentially fatal septicaemia.  

For the first time in months Mr Ford felt able to resume work on the carving and knew straight away who he wanted to give it to upon completion.

“It took me around 100 hours to carve the mallard,” said Mr Ford. “When I first developed this condition in the middle of last year, I gave up on my carving, even though it was probably about 90 per cent completed. I just didn’t have the heart for it any more.

“I had the operation in December and it has been 100 per cent successful, although I now have a stoma which will be with me for the rest of my life. Mr Muhammad and the team at Tameside were fantastic. The care they provided was excellent and since having the operation I’ve had a completely new lease of life.”

The 81-year-old revealed that the mallard was one of his first animal carvings, having previously carved dolls houses, boats and miniature furniture.

“I bought a number of blocks of wood – which had been bound for life as pit props - back in 1978. I have been carving and painting for years and it felt like the most appropriate way of saying thank you to the team at Tameside Hospital.”

Mr Muhammad, Consultant General and Colorectal Surgeon, said: “It’s an amazing piece of work and I was delighted to accept this on behalf of the whole team. It just shows how surgery can give people a better quality of life. It really does make a difference.”

He added that the keyhole procedure which Mr Ford underwent was a hugely complicated operation which took around eight hours to complete.

But despite the complexity of the surgery, Mr Ford was up and moving around within hours after benefiting from the hospital’s enhanced recovery programme.

Enhanced recovery improves the quality of care by helping patients to get better sooner after major surgery and reduces length of stay, which is better for the patient.