Life transformed after leg saved from amputation

Posted by pt91 at Sep 12, 2018 12:28 PM |
VaLS Clinic, funded by gift from George Davies to the University of Leicester and Leicester's Hospitals, makes a life-changing difference for patient

Issued by Leicester's Hospitals on 12 September 2018

A patient has spoken of how her livelihood has been restored after surgeons at a new clinic, funded by a generous philanthropist, were able to save her leg from amputation. In July 2017 the high-street retail entrepreneur, George Davies, gave a £5.15 million gift to the University of Leicester and Leicester’s Hospitals to help patients with poor leg circulation and reduce amputation rates.

The founder of famous brands such as Next, George at Asda and Per Una at Marks and Spencer provided the money to establish a limb salvage clinic at Glenfield Hospital and deliver a research programme at the University to support the work of the clinic. Professor Rob Sayers was appointed to the newly established George Davies Chair of Vascular Surgery and oversees the whole programme.

The aim of the new Vascular Limb Salvage Clinic (VaLS) is to treat patients with circulatory problems faster and more effectively, to prevent amputation. One patient who has had her life transformed because of this clinic is 45 year old Despoina.

Despoina Apergi, who lives in London, was devastated when told by her doctor that she would need to have her leg amputated. So she looked for alternatives.

She explained: “I thought my only option was a below-the-knee amputation but I looked online and saw media coverage about the Vascular Limb Salvage (VaLS) Clinic at Glenfield Hospital. I self-referred and went to see Mr. Robert Davies at the VaLS clinic.”

Robert Davies, Consultant Vascular Surgeon at the Glenfield Hospital said: “Through the new VaLS clinic we aim to prevent leg amputations through the quick identification and treatment of patients with poor leg circulation.”

George Davies, fashion innovator, design guru and retail legend, said: “I am delighted with the impact that the great team at Glenfield Hospital are making, not just in Leicester but internationally, and the impact that they have made in saving Despoina’s limb. I am confident that this is just the beginning of a great, worthwhile cause.”

Despoina had recently been diagnosed with blocked arteries in another hospital and underwent a number of treatments, including angioplasty and open surgery. Unfortunately, these were unsuccessful and she was subsequently offered a below-knee amputation. She approached the VaLS clinic for a second opinion and, following assessment and investigation, the clinic attempted to save her leg with further open surgery.

Despoina underwent a successful complex lower limb revascularisation operation that involved bypassing the blocked arteries in her thigh and calf with a vein graft. She was discharged seven days after surgery with a well-perfused leg.

Despoina continued: “So far the graft seems to be working fine. I have returned to work which means I can earn money and live my life. I do have difficulty walking so I use a walker. I am so happy that my leg has been saved.”

Despoina had developed a threatened leg as a result of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) causing blocked arteries in her thigh and calf. PAD is a common circulatory problem affecting 20% of people aged over 60 years, but can affect younger age groups.

Typically, the arteries become slowly affected by atherosclerosis – fatty deposits – over many years that eventually leads to narrowing or ‘furring up’ of the arteries. As the narrowing tightens, blood flow to the legs becomes increasingly compromised, eventually threatening the leg itself: critical limb ischaemia.  PAD can result from a number of causes, including smoking and diabetes. Despoina had smoked for over 30 years.

The Vascular Limb Salvage Clinic (VaLS), funded by the George Davies Charitable Trust, was established to offer faster, more efficient diagnosis and treatment and prevent other patients from losing their leg. Patients, GPs, physicians and other healthcare professionals across the country can refer to the clinic. Patients will be seen as quickly as possible; the aim is see every patient within 48 hours of referral.

Alongside this, a research programme on the causes and treatment of limb loss led by the University of Leicester aims to improve outcomes and reduce delays.

Editor Notes

Worldwide, every 30 seconds a limb is amputated due to peripheral vascular disease, with a major amputation taking place every two hours in the UK. With thousands of people in the UK affected by peripheral arterial disease and poor circulation, George Davies wanted to bring awareness to a cause that could be prevented with further research.

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