A man has had nearly half his face reconstructed following a gruesome accident onboard a boat.
Craig Decent’s eye was left totally smashed to pieces, with multiple bones in his face broken, leading to some of the most complex and radical medical treatments ever attempted in a UK hospital.
Mr Decent, from Calvert in Buckinghamshire, was with his family on the boat enjoying a day out on the water when the accident happened in 2000.
He said: “It was a glorious day and I was attempting to open the sunroof using a winch to make the most of the sunshine. As I attempted to wind back the roof it suddenly came hurtling back towards me at great speed.
“Before I could move out of the way it trapped my head and smashed it against the winch which I had been trying to operate.”
The force of the impact caused his eye to explode, which caused an excessive amount of blood loss.
Mr Decent was airlifted to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, where surgeons had to make an incision on the top of his head, before peeling back the flesh from his face in order to perform the delicate work on his eye socket and cheekbone.
Led by consultant ophthalmic Bijan Beigi, the attempts to save his badly damaged eye failed almost straight away. Instead, the decision was taken that it should be replaced by an artificial one.
Mr Beigi said: “It might sound relatively straightforward but there are muscles and nerves beneath the skin which need taking into account. Unless the operation was done perfectly there was a risk of paralysis on at least a part of his face and also the danger of infection and lasting scarring.”
Pins, plates, screws and wire mesh were used to reconstruct the eye, before the facial skin was slowly lowered back into place and stapled back onto Mr Decent’s skull. It’s said that one millimetre of inaccuracy during this process could have lead to a range of problems, including hair loss and paralysis.
After a near full recovery, Mr Decent barely shows any sign of his injuries. He said: “Mr Beigi and his team performed a miracle for which I will always be grateful. Without their skill and application I would probably have suffered permanent disfigurement.”