Sometimes the achievements and expertise of cosmetic and plastic surgeons are unfairly derided in the media. Here at Secret Surgery, we’d like to honour and celebrate the achievements of plastic surgeon Professor Simon Kay for his work on a victim of the Cumbria shootings last year in Britain.
In Cumbria, England last year in a country lane, a taxi-driver pulled up next to hotelier Harry Berger and shot him. Berger was one of 25 people shot that day by Derrick Bird, and his injuries were severe. “The shotgun barrels were only about six inches away from my body,” Berger says. “The first shot hit my hand and shredded my little two fingers. The second shot entered through my tricep – about halfway between my elbow and my shoulder – and removed my whole bicep, along with the artery, and nerves.”
The plastic surgeries Mr Berger underwent were tested and developed in war zones like Afghanistan, Belfast, and Vietnam, where they have helped countless soldiers and victims of war regain the use of their limbs, or help them to undo the effects of injuries to the face or burns to the skin.
Surgeons working within hours of the attack on Berger took a vein from his right wrist and used it to replace the destroyed brachial artery. Professor Kay then took over the case. Three days later Kay removed a section or “flap” of muscle that runs between Berger’s armpit and hip, and used it to rebuild the missing bicep and triceps muscles. This was, says Kay, “the lesson from Belfast and Afghanistan”.
Mr Berger continues to struggle with his injuries, and no doubt his trauma. Professor Kay remains grateful to the founding fathers of plastic and cosmetic surgery. He mentions Harold Gillies, who worked on facial reconstructions during the First World War, in particular: “[he] laid down the ground rules for the reconstruction of ears, lips, noses, mouths, chins and jaws”.