Eleven years of agony erased by a 90-minute op 

12/12/2016 00:00 
A woman who was in so much pain that she considered having her leg amputated has run a 10k race thanks to pioneering surgery at UCLH.

Hannah Almond, 34, was one of the first people in the world to be given a life-changing treatment that could eventually help people across the country.

Hannah suffered a major deep vein thrombosis - a dangerous blood clot in a vein - when just 21.

The DVT, which ran nine inches from her left hip to her belly button, was treated but did lasting damage to her vein.  This stopped her blood from flowing normally, leaving her in constant pain.

The mother-of-three struggled to walk more than 20 yards and couldn’t pick up her children.  The pain was so severe that Hannah, who lives near Sevenoaks in Kent, had asked to be registered disabled and, on her worst days, had thought about having her leg amputated.

Everything changed two years ago when she became one of the first people in the world to be given a revolutionary treatment.

In a 90-minute operation at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in December 2014, vascular surgeon Toby Richards inserted a trio of stents - crush-proof mesh tubes - into her damaged and weakened vein.

These held it open, allowing the blood to flow freely once more – and erasing her pain.  Today, she is a keen runner and has just completed her first race.

Hannah, who did the 10k race in London, said: “I was in pain for 11 years - from the day I had my blood clot until the day Mr Richards treated it.

“That was all of my twenties – they should have been my fittest and most active years.  My children were really young and they had to miss out.  I couldn’t carry them because of the pain. 

“I couldn’t even push the baby buggy sometimes and the eldest two had to do it for me.  I was in pain from hip to toe and remember crying and thinking if nothing could be done for me, maybe I’d consider an amputation.”

Hannah tries to run 13 miles – the equivalent of a half marathon – each week.

She said: “The children love the fact that I can run now.  When we went on holiday, I could ride a bike and go in a pedalo – all the small things that people take for granted.  There’s no stopping me.

“Before the operation, the thought of living in chronic pain for any more of my life was soul destroying.  I had considered amputation - and now I can run.  It has turned out better than I could ever have imagined.”

Hannah, who is studying accountancy, was one of eight patients to be treated by Professor Richards as part of an international trial into venous stenting.

Each patient has two or three of the nickel and titanium stents placed in their iliac vein – the large vein that drains used blood out of the leg, through the abdomen and back towards the heart.

The stents are inserted using keyhole surgery and are expected to last for life.

Professor Richards, who along consultant with radiologist Julian Hague has treated 22 more people since the trial finished, said that in some cases pain relief was instant.

He added: “The treatment has been completely successful in more than 90 per cent of cases.  People who were disabled and were losing hope are walking back into the clinic happier.  Some come in crying with happiness, they really do.
“Being part of a clinical trial is good for the patient because they get access to the most advanced and novel technology.  It’s good for the hospital and it’s good for the NHS.”

Read the Daily Mail's coverage here

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