Man who lost half his leg says doctors have REFUSED to save his stump
Amputee, 41, who lost half of his LEG from a blood clot claims NHS doctors have given up on saving his dying stump – even though he is desperate to keep it
- Ben Lovell, 41, had to have his right leg amputated below the knee in 2017
- He had symptoms of a blood clot, such as cramps, in the months before
- After two years of recovery, he was hit with another blow in September 2019
- Doctors found the main artery to his thigh is blocked and not pumping blood
- Mr Lovell is in pain but says doctors are reluctant to operate again
An amputee who lost half of his leg due to a blood clot has told how doctors have refused to save his dying stump.
Ben Lovell, from Halifax in Yorkshire, is desperate to keep the remaining part of his right limb.
The 41-year-old had his shin bone amputated two years ago, after his foot turned white from a lack of circulation.
Doctors discovered he had a blood clot in his leg, revealing it was responsible for cramps in his calf that he had suffered for months.
Medics are reportedly shocked that his leftover stump hasn’t already died because the main artery to his thigh is now completely blocked by another clot.
But he says NHS medics are reluctant to operate on his leg to unblock the clot and save his stump.
Mr Lovell fears having the remaining part of his leg cut off when it dies will leave him unable to get a prosthetic and render him wheelchair-bound.
The father-of-two admits that he is in pain every time he takes a step, but can put up with the daily agony because ‘at least I can still walk’.
Mr Lovell has been left to try and rehabilitate his stump by himself, using exercise to push blood through to his dying upper leg.
Ben Lovell, 41, claims doctors have refused to save his stump that is lacking a blood supply. He lost his leg in 2017 due to a blood clot and now wears a prosthetic leg (pictured)
Mr Lovell claims medics are shocked his stump hasn’t already died because the main artery to the thigh is blocked. The stump is white (pictured) from the lack of blood flow
Mr Lovell, from Halifax, struggled to adapt to life as an amputee and said the recent news was a ‘kick in the teeth’. He is pictured after half his leg was removed in November 2017
When asked about why he is annoyed by the NHS decision to not operate, he said: ‘I want to save my leg.
‘The higher up you amputate it, the harder it is to walk. If goes too high, I won’t get to wear a prosthetic.’
Mr Lovell, a former road worker, added: ‘I may be still in pain every time I take a step, but at least I can still walk.
‘My femoral artery (the main artery in both legs)… is completely blocked all the way from my stomach all the way down to my leg.
‘The only thing keeping my [amputated] leg alive at the moment are the little blood vessels and they [doctors] don’t know how long that’s going to last for.
‘I’ve spoken to doctors, specialists and professors and they all say my leg, as it’s been blocked for twelve months now, should be dead.
‘It should be of no use to me whatsoever, but I can still do what I can do because I’m pushing that blood into it.’
Mr Lovell’s life-changing ordeal began in February 2017, when he started feeling cramps in his right calf.
He went to see his GP who put the cramps down to sciatica, a pain caused by the compression of the sciatic nerve, which runs from your hips to your feet.
Five months went by with no improvement. Mr Lovell said he was eventually rushed to Bradford Hospital after his foot turned white.
A typical symptom of a blood clot, also called deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs, is a red, swollen leg. It can also turn the skin a blue colour.
Tests at the hospital revealed that there was no blood circulating to Mr Lovell’s foot due to a blood clot in his leg.
In September, he was given a seven-hour bypass operation in an attempt to save his leg.
An arterial bypass creates a new route for blood to get into the leg, typically by using a piece of another blood vessel.
Mr Lovell claims doctors have left him to get on with his life by rehabilitating his stump himself. He uses exercise to help push blood into the area and keep his stump alive
The father-of-two was fit and healthy before he suddenly started suffering cramps in his calf in February 2017. He was rushed to hospital in the July when his foot turned white (pictured)
A seven-hour bypass surgery to save Mr Lovell’s leg failed. He was told it would need to be amputated (pictured afterwards)
But the procedure was unsuccessful, and Mr Lovell was told to have the best chance at living a normal life he would need to have his leg amputated.
On November 29, Mr Lovell underwent surgery to remove his leg. Back at home after his surgery, he struggled to adapt to life as an amputee.
He said: ‘Having to come home and adapt now to living life with one leg was just hard, just very hard.
‘I went through probably a good twelve months of being low. I turned to drugs, alcohol, suicidal thoughts.’
Mr Lovell said daily tasks such as going to the toilet or making a cup of tea would cause him to ‘break down’ because it was so much more difficult than before.
He said: ‘I was a fit healthy lad, I worked seven days a week and all of a sudden I’m dragging myself across the floor of my bedroom.’
Mr Lovell found out just weeks before he married his wife, Laura, that he had another major blood clot. He had to have another bypass and managed to walk down the aisle (pictured)
Mr Lovell admits he turned to ‘drugs, alcohol and suicidal thoughts’ for around a year after his leg was amputated. He is pictured with his wife and two children who have not been named
WHAT IS A BLOOD CLOT?
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins of your body, usually in the leg.
Symptoms of a DVT include swelling, usually in the effected limb, leg pain or tenderness often described as a cramp, reddish or bluish skin discoloration and warm skin.
Clots can break off from a DVT and travel to the lung, causing a pulmonary embolism (PE), which can be fatal. The signs and symptoms of a PE include sudden shortness of breath, chest pain-sharp, rapid heart rate and an unexplained cough, sometimes with bloody mucus.
The prevention and treatment of blood clots primarily involves blood thinning medication. Other interventions, including surgical procedures, implantable devices, or other medications may be needed.
Some of the most common risk factors for blood clots include:
- Hospitalization for illness or surgery
- Major surgery
- Severe trauma
- Injury to a vein caused by a broken bone or muscle injury
- Birth control or hormone therapy methods which contain oestrogen
- A family histroy
- Sitting for long periods of time
Source: National Blood Clot Alliance
Mr Lovell was due to marry his fiancée, Laura, 33, in November 2018, but less than four weeks before the wedding, a trip to the doctors about a lump in his groin almost put a halt on the day.
Tests revealed a second major blood clot was blocking off circulation to both of his legs, which had to be treated with another bypass.
‘My left leg cleared with a heparin drip and my right leg needed another bypass. I managed to walk down the aisle six weeks later and we got married,’ Mr Lovell said.
Things were looking up by 2019. He had regained confidence, started his own company that provided shoes for amputees, and attended a mental health programme.
He said: ‘I’d had a really good year in 2019, and then on my wife’s birthday, which was in September, we were going out for a meal for dinner and I popped down to the doctors and she couldn’t find a pulse in my groin again.’
Mr Lovell said finding out his femoral artery was blocked was a ‘massive kick in the teeth’ after coming so far.
He claims that doctors are reluctant to perform more surgeries to save his stump. It is not entirely clear why.
Amputating the stump further would be a last resort. Because there is a lack of blood flow reaching it, the area may not heal. Mr Lovell also does not want to have his leg amputated any more.
There are no future plans for Mr Lovell’s stump, and in the meantime, he is having regular scans and tests to monitor the situation.
The decision has prompted Mr Lovell to seek healthcare privately or abroad to treat the lack of blood flow to his leg.
Mr Lovell, pictured being pushed in a wheelchair by his son, said daily tasks would cause him to ‘break down’ because it was so much more difficult than before. He said: ‘All of a sudden I’m dragging myself across the floor of my bedroom’
Mr Lovell says there are no future plans for his stump and he may seek treatment abroad
Mr Lovell, who used to be a road worker, said he was fit and healthy before the blood clot (pictured). But despite everything, he now ‘loves being an amputee’
He had devoted his time to exercise in order to help push blood around the area and keep it functioning.
His stump is painful to touch and sometimes changes colour. It’s also so cold that it constantly feels as though it is burning.
Despite this, Mr Lovell said: ‘I can do more now than I ever could with two legs because I’m pushing myself a lot more.’
As well as this, he has dedicated time to helping others in a similar position keep their spirits up in the aftermath of tragedy.
Mr Lovell said: ‘I never would have done a lot of the stuff that I’m trying to do now – I’m a completely different person.
‘I love being an amputee… if my leg was okay and I wasn’t in pain, it would be the best thing in the world that ever happened to me.
‘Every time I go into the hospital, I end up talking to all of the new amputees that had amputations that day. Nobody knows how hard it is or what you’ve gone through unless they’ve experienced it.
‘Life goes on, you’ve lost a limb you’ve not lost your life, you’ve lost a leg but you’ve still got another leg, you’ll get a prosthetic and even if you don’t get a prosthetic you’ve got crutches there’s no stopping you from getting out and doing stuff.
‘If you stay positive and you’ve got a positive mind, it’s going to help with your rehabilitation- one hundred per cent.’
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