An intricate and clever sculpture delivered to each of two vascular service staff signified more than just saving a life for a couple who had been married for 50 years.
The patients of Ysbyty Glan Clwyd’s vascular department, who we have called Mr and Mrs A to protect their privacy, sent the unusual and personal gift to the team members after a lifesaving operation in July this year.
Called “Swan Lake” the hand carved pieces were a thank you from 82 year-old Mr A for not only repairing the most life-threatening kind of aneurysm but for giving him the chance to rekindle his love of woodworking.
A scan for a hernia this summer revealed Mr A had a potentially fatal large abdominal aortic aneurysm, known as a Triple A, and he was referred for urgent treatment by his doctor.
His wife called Mandy Williams, medical secretary to North Wales vascular services director Mr Soroush Sohrabi, for help and advice.
“I would have paid to have his surgery done privately because he means so much to me,” said Mrs A. “But Mandy Williams spoke to vascular nurse practitioner Kristie Watson. The following day Kristie called me and she was absolutely fantastic.
“I wouldn’t have got through the experience without her and she kept in touch all the way through.
“My husband had his scan on the Thursday and the operation on Monday the following week.”
Vascular surgeon Mr Aidas Raudonaitis performed a successful procedure assisted by Dr Owen Rees and, after being moved into and out of recovery, Mr A called his wife the next day to collect him.
She said: “I was told he wouldn’t be out until at least Wednesday. When I went to collect him he was laughing and said ‘you look scared stiff’.”
When he got home Mr A was suffering from back pain so Mandy Williams arranged for another CT scan.
Thankfully it came back clear and a consultation with Mr Raudonaitis confirmed everything was fine.
During his convalescence the former technician, engineer, lecturer and teacher was desperate to get back to carving intricate wooden sculptures in his “man cave”.
A skilled member of the Welsh Marquetry Society he was most at home making things with his hands in his garage.
Mrs A, 77, said her 82 year-old husband’s love of creating things was a big factor in him getting back on his feet and recovering after the operation.
Mrs A explained: “He said ‘I just want to get back into my garage’. It’s his man cave and carving is his hobby. Doing the carvings makes him relax and gives him a sense of achievement - he’s been doing them for a long time.
“He said ‘what can we do to thank Kristie and Amanda’? I said ‘why don’t you make them a carving’?”
The result was the beautiful and ingenious creation which from one angle looks like a swan - but when turned shows a ballerina.
“A little boy saw one he had made and said it looked like Swan Lake,” said Mrs A. “So that’s what my husband called it. He just wanted to make something personal for Kristie and Amanda.”
Mrs A was quick to thank the surgical team and all staff supporting the vascular hub at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd.
She said: “I can’t praise the hospital enough. They saved my husband’s life. It means the world to us. It is our world restarting and it’s given us life.
“I couldn’t live without him and I am just so grateful for all the wonderful service we have had – it’s been amazing.”
She added, with a laugh: “Although we’ve nothing in common really, except we both dislike cucumber – but I adore him and I couldn’t live without him.”
Mandy said she was “overwhelmed to receive something so clever” from the couple, adding: “It was just so thoughtful.”
Kristie, who has worked in the vascular service for 25 years, said: “It was just so unexpected. To have something carved personally by him was quite special really.”