When Mary Ellison was knocked from her bike, the injuries she suffered were extensive. She was transported to the Countess of Chester, but she was not expected to live. Sameh K Dimitri was the off duty surgeon who saved her life because he had an idea. He was there to visit one of his patients when he heard there had been a serious accident. He wanted to help. He also had an idea to stop the loss of blood.
Everything started because cycling was Mary Ellison’s passion. She joined a cycling club and covered a minimum of 150 miles every week with her husband Denis. They travelled to France in 2009 for Tour de France and had a marvellous time. They were planning more cycling holidays, but on October 28th everything changed. They were driving to Chester from St Helens to meet their cycling friends.
They were planning to spend the entire day on their bikes. They parked the car and set off. They had only gone a few yards when a lorry weighing seven and one-half tons pulled up behind them. Since Denis was in back, he was hit first. He slammed into his wife who was then struck by the lorry. Denis landed on the grass verge. He suffered internal injuries and a broken pelvis.
Mary flew ten feet into the air and landed directly on her legs. She suffered from four broken vertebrae, a broken knee, s smashed pelvis, broken ribs and a serious cut on her head. She was transported to Countess Of Chester Hospital. Due to the extensive blood loss, the Manchester Blood Unit was contacted. Her son Philip was also contacted and asked if he needed a police escort to the hospital. The situation was critical.
Philip was placed in the position of losing both of his parents at the same time. He was told his mother was not expected to live. When Mary was in surgery, fifty percent of the team wanted to stop because they believed they had done everything possible. Sameh K Dimitri recommended using a filter to stop the bleeding and screwing a metal cage into her bones in an attempt to help her pelvis heal. His actions saved her life.
For the next two and one-half weeks, Mary remained on life support. There was no brain activity and she was unconscious. When Mary regained consciousness, she was fitted with a neck brace and a back brace. Her limitations were devastating because she was used to living an active life. Despite this, she was grateful to be alive. She wanted to meet with the surgeon prior to leaving the hospital.
Sameh K Dimitri arrived within minutes. The meeting was tearful and emotional. Mary did not know what to say to the man responsible for saving her life so she simply said thank you. The surgeon played down his role. He insisted he was just doing his job. To him, the situation was that straightforward. Mary felt he was the most wonderful person she had ever met.
Mary felt when he did his job, it was different than anyone else. His actions were responsible for her life despite the severity of her injuries. Her injuries remain extensive. Her pelvis is twisted due to the extent of the nerve damage, her right leg feels extremely heavy, and the feeling of constant needles and pins in her foot is often painful.
Due to the extent of the nerve damage, Mary must wear a foot brace attached to her insole. This is referred to as a toe-off. The device is placed beneath her foot in her shoe. It helps prevent her from falling over because it extends up her leg. The hearing on her right side has been impacted. She has to relieve the pain every day with a prescription for morphine.
Mary was not expected to be able to get out of bed, walk, or even survive but she did. She has to be extremely careful, use a lot of effort and rely on crutches to walk even a short distance, but she can. She said she cried often when she realised the extent of her injuries and how they would change her life. She was not able to leave the hospital for five months due to her injuries.
Once she was home she realised she needed to make a decision. She could remain in a wheelchair at home while the world passed her by, or go back into the world and resume her life as best she could. She based her decision on the fact her life was a miracle. She began with physiotherapy. She clung onto a tall frame to walk prior to going back to the gym. She said this was a tremendous help.
She has fallen a few times because balance is s struggle due to the weakness in her pelvis. Mary walks using two elbow crutches. During her lengthy recovery, she broke her wrist, ribs, femur, knee and snapped the tendon in her thumb. She saw these as obstacles she needed to get past. The Healthy Living Team of the council offered a class for Fall Prevention she attended.
This was when Mary began using special cycles for exercising designed for the disabled. She says it is a lot easier to go downhill than back up. She developed a relationship with an autistic, thirty-year-old man she fondly refers to as her new grandson. She said he adopted her. They have a lot of fun when they are together. She praises the NHS.
According to Mary, if not for the paramedics who responded to her accident and the surgeons, doctors and nurses at the hospital, she would not be alive. She even jokes about not wanting to experience their services again. Her belief in Christianity is responsible for the exceptionally positive attitude she has regarding her disability. She also admits she has bad days.
She used to hold hands with her husband and they walked everywhere together. This is no longer possible because she has to use crutches. She is more grateful for her life than upset. When her granddaughter Rebecca learned to walk, she wanted desperately to play a game of Ring O’Roses with her but was unable to. She admits what once seemed trivial hurts her now. Mary still remains positive.
Mary admits the retirement she planned with her husband has changed. She is grateful she is still able to spend it with him. Her granddaughter is now ten years old and the light of her life. She feels fortunate she has the opportunity to watch her grow. Sometimes, she is sad when she is unable to walk during a lovely day, but she never becomes bitter or angry.
Mary feels humbled because she owes her life to the fast thinking of Sameh K Dimitri. She survives any pain she experiences because she has put everything into perspective. If not for this surgeon, she would no longer be able to experience life at all. She simply lives the best life she possibly can. She enjoys the time she spends with her family the most.
Sameh K Dimitri saved Mary Ellison’s life due to the effectiveness of his idea. He received training in vascular surgery in Chester, Liverpool and Wirral. His focus is treating venous diseases with minimally invasive treatments. He has run programs for training consultants interested in developing their skills. He is the only endovascular and vascular surgeon in the United Kingdom who has received approval to instruct other surgeons in a treatment called cyanoacrylate glue.
Also reported in Mirror Newspaper
- What is a Vascular Surgeon
- Finding the Right Vascular Surgeon
- Review of Frailty In Patients Undergoing Vascular Surgery
- Vascular Consultant for Nuffield Health Chester
- Freedom from Varicose Veins: My Surgery