Spinal injury patient escapes permanent paralysis after innovative surgery

Jonathan Deane is a lucky man – and he knows it.
The 69-year-old suffered potentially life-changing injuries when he fell off his racing bike and broke his neck at the end of April.
He underwent emergency surgery  at the NNUH spinal injury unit to insert a plate and screws into his neck vertebrae and has already been discharged to a rehab unit in the community where he will receive rehabilitation treatment before going home.
Mr Deane, from Ingham, had suffered at least two minutes of paralysis by the side of the road when he fell into a ditch while out on his racing bike. Luckily his cries for help were heard by two cyclists passing by who were able to use his mobile phone to call his wife, who brought him to the NNUH.
Mr Am Rai, NNUH Consultant Spinal Surgeon, said Mr Deane is a very lucky man: “Normally with an injury like this the patient does not recover and remains paralysed permanently. Luckily for Mr Deane this was a temporary situation and the cord regained some function.”
Mr Deane’s scans showed a severe spinal fracture with injury to the spinal cord. If Mr Deane was to have any chance of recovery Mr Rai and his team needed to operate immediately to stabilise the spine and remove a tiny section of the bone; half a millimetre at a time, which was exerting pressure on a nerve near the spinal cord.
Mr Rai was able do the operation with help of the dedicated spinal team including the receiving team who were able to immobilise and prevent further injury.
He said: “It is indeed a miracle that Jonathan can move his limbs as the majority of patients who receive this type injury are paralysed and do not recover. The operation has aligned his spine using special titanium cages and screws.”
This precision work was made even more challenging as the surgical team had to wear full personal protective equipment.
 He said:  “Many spinal operations require use of high speed burrs, which are power tools, to remove tiny sections of the bone. In this Coronavirus pandemic this is very dangerous to the team as the procedure releases tiny aerosol particles into the air and they can endanger the operating team. This has led to increased number of deaths amongst surgeons.
He added: “All credit must go to this highly professional team. They are putting their lives at risk, but like many in the NHS they are here to help. Mr Deane woke up with power in his upper limbs, so hopefully he will be able to go straight home after his rehabilitation in Norwich, rather than be sent to the specialist rehabilitation unit in Sheffield. He should be back on his bike in the fullness of time.”
Mr Deane’s family beg to differ. His bike has been taken away by his daughter and he has had strict instructions that when he goes home he has to concentrate on recovering.
He said: “I am going to go home and be royally bossed about my wife and my children. The bike has gone. I am not allowed to do anything at all except sit in a chair and recover.”
Mr Deane believes he has already used up five of his nine lives having shot his foot off accidentally when his shotgun went off while getting out of his truck; broken his wrist; had a serious car accident in which he had 100 stitches in his face and has been diagnosed with “a bit of cancer” on the back of his head.
He very nearly used up another life in getting to the hospital: “I was able to stand with help and walk a bit. I also was able to move my head from side to side – because I tried it. I have been told several times how stupid that was.”
While luck may have played a part in his fortunes, there is no doubt in Mr Deane’s mind that his longterm prognosis looks so favourable because of the surgery carried out by Mr Rai and his spinal injuries team during this pandemic.
He said: “They saved my life. There is no doubt in my mind. They carried out very important surgery. They are absolutely all heroes. I cannot thank them enough.”
He added: “I know there is a desire to have a unit here at the hospital so I am going to try to raise some money for the N&N.”
Pic caption:
Cherry Cubelo, Lead Spinal Injuries Nurse;  Jack Gallifant, 4th year Medical Student; patient Jonathan Deane;  Health Care Assistant Mike Pence;  Spinal Consultant Am Rai;  Gerand Pe
Orthopaedic Nurse Practitioner and Gateley Ward Staff Nurse Mihaela Pintea.
Notes to editors
The regional spinal unit receives all the spinal injuries but specialist rehabilitation is only available in super regional spinal injury units. The NNUH sends its spinal injury patients to the Specialist Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Unit in Sheffield.
Mr Deane suffered his injury on Saturday 25 April.
Thursday 14th of May 2020 02:03:06 PM