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PATIENT

Heart surgeon leaves 16cm of metal in patient

A patient recovering from heart surgery has launched legal action after finding his doctor left him more than a prescription for painkillers. Mysterious pains led to the discovery of several pieces of a metal probe in his arteries.

Heart surgeon leaves 16cm of metal in patient
File photo: Andy G/Flickr

A 50-year-old patient from the Rhône-Alpes region of south-east France might have been forgiven for thinking that surgery was the best thing for him, after suffering a heart attack in 2010.

It turns out, however, that the cure may have been worse than the disease, after six separate pieces of a metal probe, measuring up to 7 cm in length, were found in his arteries, seven months after his operation.

The unlucky patient, Nourredine Lamache, underwent an invasive probe at the CHU hospital in Annecy, in July 2012, but all did not go smoothly thereafter.

“I had pins and needles in my right arm, and a prickling pain in my head. I couldn’t sleep, and I had a pain in my shoulder,” Lamache told French daily Le Parisien on Tuesday.

Devoid of explanations, he consulted an angiologist (blood vessel and vein specialist) in February this year. A scan of his arteries revealed something out of the ordinary – several metal fragments, between 3 and 7 cm long.

The pieces of a broken probe had, unbelievably, been left inside Lamache’s body after his 2012 operation and were moving slowly towards his brain, causing serious risk of a stroke.

“I could have died. I’m waiting for the surgeon’s apology,” Lamache told Le Parisien.

Surgeons opened him once again and removed the metal earlier this month.

But his troubles didn’t end there, however. Further scans and consultations with doctors suggest that Lamache’s arteries are still home to three other fragments of the broken metal probe – in his arm, shoulder and the base of his neck.

According to Le Parisien, he is still deciding whether or not to go under the knife once more to have them removed. In the meantime, Lamache is taking action of another kind.

His lawyer, Caroline Colomb, told Le Parisien, “The error here is obvious. And we will be demanding compensation.”

For its part, the hospital has offered Lamache their services, and is seeking an amiable, out-of-court settlement.

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HOSPITAL

Furious Frenchwoman forced to fly to US to get new hands

A French amputee has hit out at her country's health system claiming she was forced to get a double hand transplant on the other side of the Atlantic - even though France was the first country in the world to do a hand transplant.

Furious Frenchwoman forced to fly to US to get new hands
Photo: AFP
A Frenchwoman called Laura was 19 years old when a sepsis infection left her with no choice but to have her hands amputated below the elbow. 
 
Now aged 28, the woman has told how this summer she decided to get two new hands in an operation in the US rather than wait around for France to help, reported Le Figaro newspaper
 
“In France we have the medical means to do this kind of surgery. It's heartbreaking, it's maddening, it's outrageous,” she told the paper. 
 
And she's right. France is a pioneer in the field of hand transplants, and was actually the first country in the world to carry out a successful hand transplant, which took place at a Lyon hospital in 1998.
 
But the operation today is a costly one filled with administrative hurdles. 
 
Laura reportedly spent two years on the waiting list in France after going through all the administrative mazes, only to hear nothing from the hospitals. 
 
Her doctor in France said that to make matters worse, nurses hadn't even been told that they should be asking the families of the deceased whether they'd give the green light to donate the hands of their dead relatives. 
 
Eventually, the Frenchwoman was told that she had been removed from the waiting list. 
 
Deterred but still determined, she contacted a leading doctor in Philadelphia to ask for his help. 
 
By late June this year she was on the waiting list, and she got a call in late August to say there was a set of hands waiting for her. 
 
Within a matter of days she was undergoing a mammoth surgery effort – that involved 40 medical workers and took eight hours – and the Frenchwoman was able to leave the hospital last week with two new hands.  
 
By the end of this month, she will return to Paris to carry out the rest of her rehabilitation on home soil. 
 
The story has proved inspirational for at least one other amputee in France, who has added herself to the same waiting list in the United States. 
 
“It's a shame to be massacred in a French hospital and then have to head to the US to get put back together,” the second amputee told Le Figaro. 
 
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