A Llŷn woman has praised staff at Ysbyty Gwynedd for transforming her life and helping her get back on her feet.
Linda Jones, 55, underwent a total hip replacement during August after she suffered complications from a previous surgical procedure earlier in the year, which left her housebound, and in a wheelchair.
Her operation was due to take place in March, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was postponed.
However, surgeons recognised Linda was in urgent need of treatment and immediately started planning how they were able to carry out her operation safely during these unprecedented times.
Linda was no ordinary patient; she underwent a lung transplant in 2014, and in 2007 was diagnosed with Systemic Sclerosis – an autoimmune disorder that causes the immune system to attack the body.
As Linda was deemed high-risk, her operation took several months to prepare and was carried out by two Orthopaedic Surgeons Mr Stuart Griffin and Mr Oliver Blocker, Anaesthetist Mr Chris Bailey and a dedicated theatre and anaesthetic team.
Consultant Anaesthetist Dr Suman Mitra carried out her pre-op assessment. He ensured Linda was prepared for her operation and put plans in place to ensure she received her care in the safest possible environment due to her vulnerability.
Linda said: “Usually when I walk into a room doctor’s walk out of the room as they rarely come across anyone like me as I have so many complex issues!
“However, the team at Ysbyty Gwynedd were determined to find a way to treat me and did everything they could to ensure that my operation went ahead when it was safe to do so.
“It has been a very difficult year, especially with COVID-19, initially I was due for my operation in March and it was postponed due to the pandemic.
“I was in a lot of pain, and even though I was shielding through lockdown my pain was worsening and I could no longer manage just on crutches.
“My passion is walking, and I love walking my dog, and at the time with my hip and everything going on I did wonder whether I would ever be able to do that again.”
Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Mr Stuart Griffin, said: “Linda was a high risk patient but was in urgent need of treatment and losing her independence at home due to her condition.
“During the pandemic we have to ensure we can provide some limited services in the safest environment possible.
“A lot of planning was involved with the surgical and management teams in regards to this operation and some compromise had to be taken and all of us had to accept there would be risks.
“At the best of times surgery is the ultimate team sport, with every player essential to maximise the chances of a good outcome."
Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Mr Oliver Blocker added: “This was a real team effort, it involved planning with the anaesthetists, nurses, theatre staff, chest physicians, transplant teams in another hospital and pharmacy team to ensure we were able to carry out this operation in the safest manner possible.
“It also involved regular conversations with Linda to ensure she understood the risks and how we were going to carry this operation out.
“We really appreciate the feedback from Linda and want to use these experiences to see how we can do things better in the new normal.”
Linda, who is now getting stronger by the day at her home in Abersoch with the help of physiotherapists, wished to thank the team at Ysbyty Gwynedd for their care.
She said: “I couldn’t thank the team enough for the treatment I have received. I went into Ysbyty Gwynedd with every faith and confidence in those who were looking after me.
“The nursing staff on Enlli Ward were fantastic, I felt I was in my own private ward, they treated me like a princess!
“Since I’ve left hospital I’ve had calls from the team to check how I’m doing and making sure everything is ok which I found a real personal touch.
“I’ve had wonderful physios, Sion Quinn and Pete Bodde, who have been visiting me at home and have helped me get stronger each day.
“My hip feels absolutely amazing! I’ve spent time outside and my life is so much better.
“I don’t think anyone will understand the commitment of these staff until you have been under their care, they really are incredible.”
Mr Griffin added: “We appreciate that many of our patients are waiting for surgery and are currently using crutches, frames and wheelchairs. We are attempting to the find the safest way forward for as many as we can.”