Man credits Facebook for leading him to a Northwick Park consultant who saved his leg from amputation
PUBLISHED: 15:54 02 January 2020 | UPDATED: 15:54 02 January 2020
A man has credited social media with saving his leg from being amputated after finding a Northwick Park Hospital consultant online.
John Byrne, 49, had suffered from peripheral artery disease (PAD) for several years and could not walk more than a few yards without painful cramps.
Doctors temporarily fixed the problem but told the social worker he faced losing the limb.
In desperation the father-of-two turned to a Facebook support group for people in a similar situation.
"It's not the most conventional way of seeking medical advice but it was the best decision I ever made," said Mr Byrne whose family has a history of PAD.
Online John met endovascular specialist consultant Dr Lorenzo Patrone, who had been previously invited to join the group because of his pioneering work in the field of endovascular surgery at the Watford Road hospital.
The minimally invasive surgery involves guiding catheters and wires along the body's blood vessels helping unblock arteries so blood can flow back into the limbs.
Small balloons can be inserted over these wires to reopen previously closed arteries which are subsequently kept open by a mesh tube called a stent.
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John added: "I struck up a conversation with Lorenzo over social media and he invited me down to see him.
"It was such a relief when he said he was confident he could succeed in the operation.
"I'm so glad I decided to get a second opinion.
"I'd been living in pain for several years because my lower right leg was starved of oxygen and dying.
"The majority of us simply accept what doctors' say without realising there might be someone out there who can offer an alternative."
Lorenzo said: "I guess my work has similarities to a plumber although I clear blockages from veins and arteries instead of pipes.
"The tools are certainly a lot more expensive and we have to have a lighter touch.
"We managed to clear a passage through John's artery which was blocked between the groin and the knees.
"You could immediately see the blood supply flowing back into his lower limb.
"I'm so glad we were able to help him."