Doctors helped ex-town star walk again

BRYAN Hamilton is a firm believer in the luck of the Irish today.The 58-year-old still considers himself blessed, despite enduring two operations and months of physiotherapy after his left foot became entangled in the scything blades of a lawnmower.

BRYAN Hamilton is a firm believer in the luck of the Irish today.

The 58-year-old still considers himself blessed, despite enduring two operations and months of physiotherapy after his left foot became entangled in the scything blades of a lawnmower.

The accident, at his home near Ipswich, left the former Ipswich Town stalwart pinned beneath his ride-on mower crying out for help.

Despite initial fears for his foot, highly skilled surgeons wove their magic during an eight-hour reconstructive surgery to help him walk again.

Mr Hamilton said it is due to their efforts that he is now on the mend.

He said: "If I ever write a book I am going to call it Angels and Magicians. The hospital staff were like angels and the people who worked on my foot were magicians.

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"I will be eternally grateful. I cannot repay them. It makes you very humble.

"I have been unbelievably lucky. I was unlucky to a degree with the way the accident happened, but after that I just count myself as being one of the luckiest guys in the world because I came into contact with so many professional and talented people. Now I'm very confident about the future.

"The grass needed a cut. As I went out the rain just started to spit. As I turned to bring the mower in, it started to lock and slip down the bank to the river. I tried to jump off, but my foot must have slipped underneath the blades."

Mr Hamilton said the rotors ripped through his adidas trainer and deep into the underside of his foot. Among his injuries were a dislocation, broken toes, and ripped tendons and arteries on the sole of his foot.

As he lay caught up in the mower Mr Hamilton shouted to his wife, Collette, who was in the house ironing.

Mrs Hamilton rushed out to help and wrapped towels round his foot to prevent dirt getting into the wound, before telephoning 999.

A female paramedic was first to arrive, followed by two ambulance men, all of whom Mr Hamilton described as 'wonderful'.

Although originally taken to Ipswich Hospital, he was transferred to Norfolk and Norwich Hospital where specialist plastic and reconstructive surgeons had the best chance of saving his foot.

The following day Mr Hamilton underwent a two-hour operation to reshape, strengthen and wire it.

Two days later, on his wife's birthday, he returned to theatre for what ended up being an eight-hour operation.

Originally it had been hoped to take an artery and muscle from his right thigh and graft it on to his left foot. However surgeons discovered it could not be done as his thigh muscles were too large and ended up having to telephone Mrs Hamilton while her husband lay sedated on the operating table. Mrs Hamilton was then asked to give permission to take the artery and muscle from the inside of his left forearm.

This meant surgeons had to use skin from his right thigh to graft on to the opening they made in his left arm.

Mr Hamilton estimates he had hundreds of stitches, as the original wound and grafts were sewn up.

He now has a scar measuring at least six inches running from the webbing inside his big toe, around the ball of his foot and into his instep, as well as scars on his thigh and forearm.

During his recuperation Mr Hamilton has been visited by Ipswich boss Joe Royle and his old teammates Mick Mills and Alan Hunter, who were quick to raise his spirits.

The former right-sided midfielder said he owed an enormous debt of gratitude to consultant plastic surgeon Elaine Sassoon and her team at Norwich, as well as the doctors, nurses and carers who have helped in his recovery.

He said: "They were absolutely fantastic. They are such a good team of surgeons. I just think they were magical."

In addition Mr Hamilton wanted thank former Ipswich physio Brian Simpson who played such a big part in his post operation recovery, along with present club physio David Williams and his team who also were very helpful.

A private man, Mr Hamilton said he has never spoken publicly about the accident, which happened on September 14 last year, because he felt the time was not right.

Now he is on the mend, although he is still waiting for some feeling to return in his foot, he has decided to say a public thank you to everyone who has helped him overcome the trauma.

Despite the legacy of his injuries, he appreciates how lucky he has been.

He said: "You live for the moment. You are always inclined to be a little conservative. What something like this does is make you realise how quickly things can change.

"My initial thought was 'I'm not going to be able to walk again' and that was quite a shock.

"I just wanted the simple things. I wanted to be able to walk uphill and around the golf course. Miss Sassoon gave me back my dream."