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Sunday, 20 April 2014

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West Cumbrian man goes long way to thank life-savers

A patient who spent 175 days fighting for his life in intensive care has returned to hospital to hand over a high-tech new machine.

Fleck Ditchburn photo
Fleck Ditchburn, during his descent of Skiddaw

Fleck Ditchburn, 63, of Lamplugh, suffers from Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

Yesterday he returned to the West Cumberland Hospital, where he had previously been admitted with a collapsed lung and pneumonia.

Back then it resulted in a six-month stay in the Whitehaven Intensive Care Unit (ICU) – but this time he was there to say thank you.

As a result of his MND – a terminal illness – Fleck uses a wheelchair.

The former marathon runner initially feared he would never see the stunning views from his beloved fells again. But then the keen fundraiser set himself a challenge.

With the help of family, friends and mountain rescue volunteers he has now conquered the summits of both Skiddaw and Blake Fell, raising thousands of pounds for charity along the way.

About £7,500 has now been used to buy an innovative new monitor that will help reduce the amount of time other people spend in hospital after surgery. The oesophageal Doppler monitor will enable patients to undergo less intrusive procedures.

Fleck, a former ICT teacher, said his condition, which was diagnosed in March 2009, has radically changed his life. “I have no movement because the neurons that control my muscles are totally destroyed,” he said.

“In April 2011 I realised that my breathing was beginning to be affected with the deterioration of my chest muscles. In June I was admitted to the West Cumberland with a collapsed left lung and pneumonia.

“Consultants, doctors and nurses gave me little chance of survival but through their skill, determination and care, I am here to tell my story.”

Fleck was finally discharged in December 2011.

He was delighted to return to hand over the monitor, which is used to assess the amount of blood pumped by the heart with each beat.

It can be used on patients undergoing major surgery, or for other surgical patients who may require invasive cardiovascular monitoring.

He was joined by Tim Taylor, from Deltex Medical which supplied the monitor.

He said: “The Government has identified fluid management monitoring as a priority for the NHS and, thanks to Mr Ditchburn and his supporters, patients at the West Cumberland can now look forward to a quicker and more comfortable experience of care.”

Dr Fiona Graham, consultant anaesthetist at the Whitehaven hospital, said: “The monitor offers many advantages for both our patients and the NHS. The staff in ICU would like to thank Fleck for his incredible fundraising efforts in order to raise the money needed for the device.”

Fleck also handed over a further £2,000 to the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

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