A HERO great-grandfather has died from injuries he suffered while rescuing his wife from a dog attack.
Ninety-year-old Andrew Russell’s skin was ripped from his arm when he was bitten by an American bulldog during a walk with his wife, Dorothy, on September 20.
The previously fit and healthy pensioner was hailed a hero for intervening when the animal broke free from its owner and knocked Mrs Russell to the ground in West Calder’s Main Street.
He wrestled the dog to protect his wife but received horrific injuries when he put his arm up to save himself.
Mr Russell initially made good progress at St John’s Hospital in Livingston after a successful skin graft, but last week, after being moved to the rehabilitation ward, his condition deteriorated and he died on Friday afternoon.
Mr Russell’s family have been left devastated by the death of the popular great-grandfather, who celebrated his 90th birthday just a fortnight before the incident.
His grandson, Ryan Irvine, 40, said: “I am 100 per cent confident that had the dog attack not happened, then he would have been at home right now.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that his death was caused by that.”
Despite his advanced years and his diagnosis with rare liver condition Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC) 15 years ago, Mr Russell had been in relatively good health.
Determined not to be beaten by PBC, Mr Russell researched it and managed his diet to help control it and maintain his quality of life.
“He was a very determined man and he never gave up easily if he put his mind to something,” said Mr Irvine.
“For a 90-year-old with PBC, he was very much enjoying his life.
“We thought he was going to make a recovery but this last week it all got too much for him. If you live for 90 years, it’s not the way your life should end.”
Mr Russell, who retired in 1989, served in the Merchant Navy as a young man, travelling around the world, before spending years working as a foreman at electrical firm Ferranti’s in Edinburgh. His grandson described him as a “role model for hard workers”.
He and his wife had moved from their home of 50 years in Polbeth to a supported living complex in West Calder in May.
“It was like a new lease of life for him,” said Mr Irvine. “They were socialising with other residents, who were people he had known for years.
“One of the residents had been planning a party to welcome him home.”
Mr Russell is also survived by children Irene Irvine and Andrew Russell, granddaughter Lynn McKeen, and great-grandchildren Darragh, Rhiannon and Ceara McKeen.
Mr Irvine, who recently met Almond Valley MSP Angela Constance to discuss whether more can be done to combat dog attacks across the country, said the number of people who have contacted the family about Mr Russell had been “amazing”. He added: “They were really shocked and sickened by what has happened to him.”
A woman is facing two charges under the Dangerous Dogs Act in connection with the attack, and the dog – which is not a banned breed – has been seized by police. Lee Campbell, 34, appeared at Livingston Sheriff Court last month.