Four patients, who were among the very first to have deep brain stimulation surgery at Queen’s Hospital, returned this week for a tea party to mark ten years since we introduced the procedure.
Michael Oughton, 57, was the very first patient to have deep brain stimulation at our hospital summer 2008, to treat symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
It proved so transformative for him that he was able to go back to being a normal dad, taking his daughter Alexandra to the park.
Alexandra, now 19, was so over the moon to have her dad back that she wrote a thank you letter to the Trust.
Michael, who also has son Jamie, 30, and daughter, Zoe, 27, said: “It made a huge difference to me and meant I could get back to doing normal dad things.
“My symptoms, particularly in my legs, were so bad beforehand I was depressed, lost weight and didn’t want to go out.”
Michael, a former project manager, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s when he was just 36 and his symptoms had got progressively worse. He was apprehensive to be among the first to have the operation locally, but his father-in-law convinced him to take the plunge.
He was so grateful for the surgery and how it changed his life that he returned for our celebration all the way from his home in Lincolnshire, having moved there with his family, including wife Suzanne, 53, since his operation.
Pictured above are Anjum and Ian with members of the team who make deep brain stimulation possible for our patients.
Anthea Sinclaire, 69, was the first person to have the surgery for Dystonia, a movement disorder. She’d experienced shaking and contractions in her neck for a number of years, which almost ruined her son’s wedding day for her and had resulted in her being made fun of in public.
Anthea, of Manor Park, said: “It was really difficult and I couldn’t do the things a lot of us take for granted, I couldn’t eat out and even a trip to a café to meet a friend was so stressful.
“Trying to sign the register at my son’s wedding was dreadful. The surgery changed my life.”
Other special guests at the event, held on Wednesday 23 May, were John Lane, 71, of Engayne Gardens, Upminster.
John had the surgery to treat a tremor in his arm due to Parkinson’s disease.
He said: “It was impossible to do things; the drugs were becoming less effective so I was ready to try anything.
“I noticed a difference straight away and it was incredible.”
The surgery went so well for John that four years later he had it again, to treat a tremor on the other side of his body.
Edward Keen, 76, of Upminster, also had the surgery 10 years ago to treat Parkinson’s disease.
The procedure helped him to remain more mobile, and even saw him running round a room at our hospital when he was helping others to see the benefits of it, a few years later.
His wife Jean, 66, a former nurse, said: “We had to do something and I had heard of the procedure. It helped with his mobility and stiffness.”
To celebrate the anniversary, Jean and the couple’s daughter had even baked a special cake (below).
Our neurologist, Dr Anjum Misbahuddin, joined our Trust just over ten years ago, alongside our neurosurgeon Ian Low, to specifically launch this procedure and make it available to local people. Over 130 patients have since benefited from it.
Anjum said: “I was delighted to see some of our very first patients return to the hospital for this celebration event, especially to hear again how much it has made a difference to their lives.
“We’re one of around 20 specialist centres in the UK which do it and we’re very passionate about offering the procedure to local people, to help them resume their normal life as much as possible.”
Deep brain stimulation is used to treat movement disorders when other treatment options have been exhausted. It involves placing electrodes in certain areas of the brain.
Pictured top are our first four patients (l-r) John Lane, Anthea Sinclaire, Michael Oughton and Edward Keen (far right), with Anjum and Ian.