Doctors who saved my jaw couldn’t have been better

Diana Atkinson had part of her jaw removed and bone from her arm used to replace it. Picture: Greg Macvean
Diana Atkinson had part of her jaw removed and bone from her arm used to replace it. Picture: Greg Macvean
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A CANCER patient who had part of her jaw removed and replaced with bone from her arm has spoken of the incredible operation and her gratitude to the NHS.

Pensioner Diana Atkinson went under the knife for a gruelling eight-and-a-half hours this month at St John’s 
Hospital in Livingston.

The operation to cut a cancerous growth from the 82-year-old’s mouth saw a feeding tube fitted to her stomach, lymph glands removed and a tracheotomy carried out.

Bone from her arm was then used to reconstruct her jaw, after it was cut away, before a skin graft replaced tissue that had also been removed.

The procedure has been deemed a success and 
doctors hope Diana, who is due to begin a course of radiotherapy at the Western General Hospital, will beat the disease.

The mum-of-two, who was born and bred in the Capital, stayed for most of her life in Polwarth and now lives in Ratho Station, was treated at the maxillofacial and plastics ward at the hospital, where patients from across the Lothians go for specialist treatment.

She contacted the Evening News as she said she wanted to tell the public of the “perfect” treatment she received at the hands of the NHS and publicly thank the team that looked after her.

She said: “It was major surgery and was never going to be easy, but everybody there made it so much easier.

“From the cleaners to the nurses and the consultants, they were all perfect. Every one of them couldn’t be better, they were absolutely tremendous. Nothing was a problem for them.

“I want people to know what it’s like there, that these people are kind and cannot do enough for you. Throughout my life, I’ve known how to complain about all sorts of things.

“But the staff on that ward and the team that did my operation I have nothing but admiration for. I couldn’t have had better treatment. Everything was cleaned twice a day. I have never seen such cleanliness in all my life.”

Diana was told she had cancer in 2006, which was treated successfully. It returned for a second time around three years ago and she was operated on again, before she was told that it had “come back with a vengeance” this year during one of her check-ups.

But following the most recent operation, Diana, who started her career working in Jenners and became a personnel supervisor for a sweet company before she retired, is on course to beat the disease for a third time.

One of the NHS Lothian staff who helped treat her, maxillofacial consultant James Morrison, thanked Diana for her kind words.

Mr Morrison said: “It’s always nice to receive positive feedback from patients and we appreciate the praise from Mrs Atkinson. We now wish her well in her ongoing treatment and recovery.”