Life-saving double operation by pioneering brain surgeon

19 March 2012

Two boys’ lives were saved simultaneously thanks to emergency brain surgery at The Children’s Hospital, Sheffield.

Owen Wilkinson, then eight, was rushed to Sheffield by ambulance after what had seemed a minor fall in the school playground.

Owen’s mum Caroline, who is deputy head at Owen’s school, said: “Owen insisted he was fine after the fall, but later he became quiet and then started to feel sick. Myself and his class teacher thought it was probably a concussion but that he should be checked out, so I took him to Barnsley Hospital.

“When I was told Owen had a skull fracture and a severe bleed on the brain, it was as though I was in an imaginary bubble; you never think it will happen to your child. Your initial thoughts are ‘will he survive?’ Thankfully the support which staff gave me at Barnsley ensured that I remained positive and took things a step at a time.” 

“Owen needed to be rushed to The Children’s Hospital where the theatres team were getting ready to operate. When I heard that we were going to Sheffield, I realised how serious the situation was, because I was already aware of all the specialist care that goes on there.”

“When we arrived at The Children’s Hospital the staff were wonderful – we knew we were in the best hands.”

Whilst Caroline and husband Mark awaited news of Owen from the hospital theatres they met another couple, whose 12-year-old son had also been rushed to surgery – with the very same condition.

“What was even more incredible was that Mark recognised the other boy’s father from football,” said Caroline. “When we realised that the boys needed the same emergency operation it made us even more anxious about them.”

Due to the dedication of the theatre team who opened two theatres, neurosurgeon Saurabh Sinha and his team were able to operate on the two boys simultaneously, managing to save both of their lives.

“When we were told that Owen was out of theatre and being taken to the intensive care unit the relief was unbelievable,” said Caroline. “We were told Owen was a very lucky boy and he was doing really well.

“It’s amazing we’ve got a specialist hospital nearby, who knows what could have happened if his journey had been further. Saving two lives like that at the same time takes such a highly skilled and dedicated team and we thank them all from the bottom of our hearts.

“We wouldn’t have Owen today without their care and dedication. These people are special in every way, Dr Sinah and his team are dedicated professionals who go beyond the call of duty and perform miracles on a weekly basis.

“I’m still in contact with the other boy’s mum and we’re hoping to take both boys out together at some point.”

Owen’s family are so grateful to the hospital that saved their son on the night of 14 October 2011, they have raised almost £4,000 for The Children’s Hospital Charity, to help fund specialist medical equipment for the hospital’s theatres.

David Vernon-Edwards, our charity director, said: “Minimal access surgery is the future of neurosurgery and The Children’s Hospital Charity want to ensure that the hospital stays at the forefront of paediatric care.

“Our amazing staff like Mr Sinha are changing lives like Owen’s every day - our theatres staff perform 11,000 operations every year. We greatly value the support of families like Owen’s to ensure we can provide our surgeons with groundbreaking equipment to enable them to do the best job they can.”














Saurabh Sinha with Owen, dad Mark and mum Caroline.