Back in the swing of things


A man whose stomach and bowel was wrapped around his heart has thanked the Northwick Park Hospital surgeon who changed his life.

Paul O'Reilly was diagnosed with a hiatus hernia after years of complications. The 59 year old from Egham in Surrey said: “I had symptoms going back a few years, including reflux issues which I was controlling with antacid tablets. Eventually things got so bad that I needed an operation at my local hospital. Unfortunately this did not go well and I felt even worse. 

“I was petrified of going near a hospital again but I was very lucky that my GP referred me to Northwick Park Hospital because by this point it was becoming hard to even breathe. I couldn't walk upstairs without getting out of breath and I couldn't eat or drink properly.” 

Paul was referred to laparoscopic upper gastrointestinal surgeon Mr Alberto Isla who sent him for a range of scans and tests. 

Paul said: “Mr Isla was absolutely brilliant, so different to my previous experience. It was like being a private patient in the NHS. He showed me the results of all the scans and said we needed to get it sorted very quickly.”

Paul’s scans showed that his stomach and part of his colon were stuck in the chest. Paul underwent keyhole surgery in November 2016 at Northwick Park Hospital, which Mr Isla describes as one of the most complex procedures he had ever done.

He said: “We had to deflate both of Paul’s lungs in order to untangle his stomach from them and then untwist his intestine which was stuck to his heart. 

“After placing the organs back into the abdomen we were left with a large hole in the muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen. This had to be fixed and we used a special mesh to close the hole.”

Paul spent five days in hospital following the operation before being discharged home. He is now back at work and on the golf course again. “My life has now changed completely”, he said.

“I work as a car detailer and after-sales director for a Porsche dealership. Before the operation I was working at a snail's pace but now I’m back to normal. I can now play golf again and am walking the full 18 holes; before I couldn't get around without a buggy.

“I've been told it'll take a year or so for everything to completely settle down but I appreciate Mr Isla being upfront about what to expect and I'm getting better and better each day.

“I've even managed to keep off the stone and a half I lost although; I can't say I would recommend a hiatus hernia as the best way to do it!”