A 74-year-old woman who was given four weeks to live because a three-stone tumour in her stomach was squashing her vital organs has had it removed.
The nail-biting moment doctors carried out the complex surgery on the patient, known only as Jasmine, will be shown on a new TV show which gives a fascinating glimpse behind-the-scenes in operating theatres.
The doctors couldn’t be sure whether they would be able to save her until they opened her up and inspected what’s going on – so Jasmine’s fate hung in the balance.
The BBC Two series Surgeons: At The Edge Of Life, which launches tonight, follows some of the country’s top medics at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham as they carry out life or death procedures.
A clip, shared exclusively with Mail Online of next week’s episode, reveals how Jasmine faced a race against time as the mass – which weighs a third of her total body weight – was growing fast.
New BBC Two show Surgeons: At The Edge Of Life, launches tonight – next week’s episode features the delicate removal of a 74-year-old’s three stone tumour
The BBC Two show features nail-biting scenes at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham’s operating theatres
Viewers will see that sometimes surgeons must resort to taking critical decisions live in the theatre.
One operating on Jasmine can be seen having his sweaty brow mopped by staff as he exclaims ‘Jesus Christ, we’re about to lose it’.
The programme comes at a time when the NHS is said to be at crisis point as Prime Minister Theresa May has apologised to patients who face a delay after NHS bosses announced 55,000 operations will be postponed.
A surgeon operating on Jasmine’s huge mass feels the pressure and needs to have his sweaty brow mopped by staff
It takes a large team to tackle the procedure where one wrong move could prove fatal
Surgeon Samuel Ford carried out the challenging operation on Jasmine
It’s like ‘bomb disposal’
Such is the risk of this surgery, five years ago they would not have embarked on this intervention.
But Jasmine was in good hands with sarcoma specialists Samuel Ford and Professor David Gourevitch.
Sue Sinclair, lead anaesthetist and matriarch of theatre, kept the others in check – working alongside them as they battled to detach the tumour from Jasmine’s organs and blood vessels, and remove it intact.
Whenever it pressed heavily on vital blood vessels, Jasmine’s blood pressure plummeted, placing her life in grave danger. It takes unwavering focus to keep her alive.
The tumour has grown so invasively that it’s crushed and displaced Jasmine’s stomach and liver.
Mr Ford and Professor Gourevitch had a puzzle on their hands to identify what and where everything is. At times, dark humour is the only way to release the tension as they grapple with blood, guts and mindboggling complexity.
Once they’ve worked out this anatomical puzzle, they faced the dauntingly delicate job of cutting the huge growth away from the tangle of fragile blood vessels.
One tiny tear could have meant Jasmine bleeds out within minutes. It’s pulse-quickening stuff for even the most experienced of surgeons.
There’s a knife-edge moment when they have to sever one of two veins to remove a kidney that’s been engulfed by the sarcoma.
Comparing it to a bomb disposal, they surgeons paused to triple check and reassure each other that they’ve got the right one… as cutting the wrong vein would be a fatal mistake.
Surgeons: At The Edge Of Life will be aired on Monday, January 8th on BBC Two at 9pm.
SURGEONS ATTEMPT TO STOP MAN’S HEART CHILL HIM AND RESTART IT AGAIN
Also featuring in episode two is 67-year-old Bob Moran who has been told that his kidney cancer is inoperable because it’s spread into particularly dangerous territory.
But self-confessed adrenaline junkie specialists Rupesh Bhatt and Richard Viney pride themselves on being amongst a handful of surgeons in the UK to tackle this sort of rare kidney tumour and think they can save him.
Bob’s condition is precarious – the tumour grown from his kidney and is burrowing up through the biggest vein in the body, heading towards his heart.
He’ll die within weeks unless radical steps are taken to remove the kidney and tumour.
But in order to do this, he’ll need major surgery – with specialist cardiac surgeons putting him on bypass, stopping his heart, chilling his body temperature and draining him of all his blood to allow them to remove the tumour.
As if that wasn’t challenging enough, they have just 30 minutes to complete the operation before Bob’s major organs start to die.
The specialist team must work together against the clock to remove the tumour in full and restart Bob’s heart.