Tyne & Wear

Stabbed man saved by roadside heart surgery

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Media captionMan stabbed in County Durham saved by roadside heart surgery

Footage of life-saving open heart surgery performed on the street to save the life of a young man is being used to help train other medical teams.

The victim was stabbed in the chest in Durham, and had gone into cardiac arrest by the time a Great North Air Ambulance Service helicopter arrived.

It was thought that he would not have survived the transfer to hospital.

A pre-hospital emergency consultant was on board so a thoracotomy was carried out at the scene under his direction.

The operation involved cutting across his chest, then using a special tool to open up the ribs and gain access to the chest cavity.

Once his heart and lungs were exposed, a clot which had built up around the heart was released, and a tie applied around the vessels which were still bleeding.

He was then given a blood transfusion and his heart resumed beating.

'Waft away wasps'

Dr Chris Smith, who is usually based at James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, carried out the operation with the help of the rest of the air ambulance crew.

The pilot, Jay Steward, said: "I was asked to hold what was left of the left lung at the time, just so the doctor could tie it off and stop the haemorrhaging.

"And on top of that I was having to waft away wasps, because one had landed in the middle of his chest as we were doing all this."

The victim, who has been named only as "Stephen", survived, although he suffered life-changing injuries and his recovery continues.

His attacker was later jailed after pleading guilty to wounding with intent and robbery.

While it is not the first time a thoracotomy has been performed outside a hospital setting, the Great North Air Ambulance Service believes it is the first time in the world the procedure has been filmed under such circumstances.

The footage is now being used to help train other emergency teams.

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