Injured man flies around the world for urgent surgery in Wigan

A sheep farmer travelled more than 8,000 miles from the Falkland Islands for urgent surgery at Wrightington Hospital.

Wednesday, 30th October 2019, 8:53 am
Patient Bob Short is now recovering
Patient Bob Short is now recovering

Bob Short, 57, was up a ladder when it slipped and he fell, fracturing his tibia and ankle.

He needed surgery, but due to the islands’ limited resources and the complexity of the procedure, he had to fly 8,050 miles to the UK.

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Bob Short's sheep farm in the Falkland Islands

The British overseas territory’s only hospital, King Edward VII Memorial, has an ever-strengthening partnership with Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust to provide surgery for patients who are willing and able to travel to the UK for treatment.

There is a reciprocal agreement, so that all British citizens get free care in the Falklands and Falkland Islanders can do the same in the UK.

Mr Short said: “For my benefit I prefer to come to the UK in case it was a long time stay. Obviously it was quite a long trip, 26 hours from the hospital in Port Stanley to the UK.

“Falkland residents know Wrightington Hospital is a renowned orthopaedic hospital and have friendly links with the islands.”

The 3D print of Bob Short's tibia

He added: “My time at Wrightington Hospital has been top class. I can’t see the Falklands being in partnership with a far better hospital to be honest.”

James Davenport, the consultant orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeon who performed the operation at Wrightington Hospital, said: “Most patients we have from the Falkland Islands are elective cases, but in Mr Short’s case it was more urgent with the damage done to his ankle and tibia.

“We also had his tibia 3D printed prior to his surgery, which helped us greatly, and we have since given it to Mr Short as a memento.”

Mr Short is expected to be discharged soon so he can return home to his family and 22,000 sheep.

He is not the first Falkland Islander to travel to Wigan for treatment.

Last summer, 14-year-old Shaun East made the same journey after breaking his collarbone in four places while playing football.

Wrightington consultants are also helping patients on the Falklands, with surgeons recently travelling there to run orthopaedic clinics, where they carried out basic surgical procedures.

Hip and knee surgeon Amol Chitre, who is next to make the trip, said: “Our partnership is getting stronger and stronger.

“I’ve already seen first-hand the amazing and varied work that takes place at King Edward VII when I visited a year ago. It does everything from cradle to grave.

“You feel like you’re making a substantial difference to the lives of people where the hospital is their only port of call. I saw around 100 patients in about five days last time I went.

“Sometimes, you can have patients on the waiting list for years, but require specialist treatment. That’s where we come in and support the excellent staff over there.”