Mum tells of gentle giant son

FIFTY stone gentle giant Paul Mason is recovering in Ipswich Hospital today after it took the emergency services three hours to get him out of his home using a forklift.

By Tracey Sparling

FIFTY stone gentle giant Paul Mason is recovering in Ipswich Hospital today after it took the emergency services three hours to get him out of his home using a forklift.

A brick bedroom wall had to be demolished to create a big enough gap for the forklift to reach the man, so he could get to hospital for a pre-arranged hernia operation.

Today Mr Mason's invalid mum Janet spoke with love and affection about her caring son and how he had been taking extreme measures to battle the enormous weight problem he had suffered since his 20s.

The wheelchair-bound 69-year-old lives with Paul in Woodhouse Square, Ipswich, where he looks after her, with help from home carers twice a day.

She said: "He's got a heart of gold. I don't know what I would do without him.

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"He used to take me out into town when he was still walking, but he hasn't been able to get about since December.

"For the last few months he has stayed in the house. He's hoping to get a weight reduction operation at hospital in Cambridge, and has been on a special diet drinking just milk and Oxo, with the odd banana - he drinks four pints of milk a day. The doctors say it should reduce his weight quite quickly.

"He might have an artificial stomach put in, in Sheffield – I think that's the only place in the country which does it- to replace his own stomach. But the doctors want to wait until he is a better general condition before they decide whether to put him under anaesthetic."

She said the 41-year-old's weight problem stretched back 20 years, and added: "When he was 21 he was as slim as anything. He got cellulitis in his leg, and when he woke up the next day it had blown up like a balloon. Then the same thing happened to the other leg. It just developed from there.

"He never was one to eat a lot, and he still doesn't now."

The engineer by trade was made redundant from Cranes in Ipswich nine years ago, and now spends his time making aeroplane and Star Wars models, and stained glass mobiles. He used to enjoy photography.

He underwent the hernia operation last night, and Mrs Mason received a call from nurses at 1.30am today to say it had gone well.

He has now been moved from intensive care, where he was treated after the operation, to a high-dependency bed and Mrs Mason hope she will move to a ward soon.

She thanked fire and ambulance crews, saying they had been 'wonderful' in coping with the situation.

As she recalled the worry which went through her mind, she shed a tear today but said her son "wasn't too bad" at the time.

An ambulance crew was called to the house at 4pm yesterday, to take him into hospital, but taking Mr Mason from the two-bedroom flat just off Rope Walk became a complex and long exercise.

Jason Gillingham, clinic performance manager for the East Anglian Ambulance Trust, said: "We did not try to get him out of the house, we called on the fire service for their assistance in extracting the patient."

Firefighters used a spade and a sledgehammer to knock down a 2ft high wall at the side of the address, to allow the three-wheel forklift truck to gain access to the front of the house.

A 10ft-wide gap was needed to get the forklift close enough to the house and a tree-stump in the front garden was also removed so the man could be lifted through a ground-floor window.

Glass from the window, a radiator and plants from the front garden were also removed.

Watched by an ever-increasing crowd of curious onlookers, the unusual operation finally drew to an end at 7.15pm.

A 20-strong team, including a dozen firefighters, managed to remove Mr Mason from the house in a harness which was attached to the forklift.

He was taken by ambulance to Ipswich Hospital.

Karl Rolfe, assistant divisional officer at Suffolk Fire Service said: "It all went very well but it was very hard work. The operation itself was very difficult and hard to carry out.

"The ambulance crew asked for our help and for health and safety reasons we have sealed off the whole area."

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