NHS surgeon will be the first in the UK to perform an operation after becoming paralysed


NHS surgeon will be the first in the UK to perform an operation after becoming paralysed using specially adapted wheelchair

  • Mohammed Belal, 48, going back to work using a specially adapted wheelchair
  • He had a cycling accident in February 2021 after a fallen tree fell on top of him
  • Was left paralysed and was in recovery for months, returning home in June 2022
  • The 48-year-old is believed to be the only paralysed surgeon working in the UK 

An NHS surgeon will tomorrow make history — becoming the first paralysed medic in the UK to perform an operation.

Mohammed Belal, 48, is set to go back into the theatre at Queen Elizabeth Hospital after suffering a freak cycling accident during the pandemic. 

The milestone of returning to work makes him one of few surgeons in the world who has returned to the operating table after being paralysed. 

He is a leading neuro-urology surgeon, who often treats patients with spinal injuries similar to his. 

Following more than 1,000 hours of rehabilitation, Mr Belal finally returned to work this month.

Mr Belal, who has worked at the hospital for more than a decade, was given a special electric wheelchair with a hydraulic seat. 

The chair can be raised up to support him in a standing position while he’s operating and has braces which lock around his knees, which can be tilted to let him lean him over the patient. 

The 48-year-old, pictured, is a leading neuro-urology surgeon who often treats patients with spinal injuries similar to his. Following more than 1,000 hours of rehabilitation he returned to work this month and is believed to be the only paralysed NHS surgeon

How does the ground-breaking wheelchair work? 

Mohammed was given a special electric wheelchair with a hydraulic seat by the University of Birmingham Hospitals NHS trust. 

It can be raised up to support him in a standing position while operating and has braces that lock around his knees which can be tilted and lean him over the patient. 

A standing wheelchair allows the user to raise the chair from a seated to a standing position.

Standing wheelchairs can be used by people with either paraplegia or quadriplegia.

There have previously been calls for wheelchairs to have standing capabilities as it can increase the user’s independence and open up more employment and leisure opportunities. 

Tomorrow, he will be using the chair for the first time, fitting an artificial urinary sphincter, an operation scheduled to take two to three hours. 

Mr Belal told the Mirror: ‘I feel incredibly lucky. 

‘Not many people come back from a catastrophic, life-changing event to a job like this.’

His accident happened in February 2021, in Berkswell, West Midlands, while he was on his bike, a hobby that he took up as relief from the pressures of working on Covid wards. 

He was hit by a fallen tree which he said he was unable to avoid. 

Mr Belal was taken to University Hospital in Coventry for emergency surgery to pin his spine after he sustained injuries including a broken back, shoulder blade, and ribs.

Later, he had a 14-hour operation at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in London.  

After the accident and operations, he spent five months in hospital and realised that recovery was going to be a long process.

His wife Elizabeth, 45, was only able to see him once a week and would drive to London to see him for an hour.

Elizabeth had their home renovated to meet their needs and looked after their children Ali, 16, Hannah, 14, and Mariam, 11.

Mr Belal was concerned about his children, who he had not seen for several months, would react to his wheelchair. 

Mohammed, who has worked at the hospital for 11 years, was given a special electric wheelchair with a hydraulic seat by the University of Birmingham Hospitals NHS trust. It can be raised up to support him in a standing position while operating and has braces that lock around his knees which can be tilted and lean him over the patient. Pictured: Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, where Mohammed works

Mohammed, who has worked at the hospital for 11 years, was given a special electric wheelchair with a hydraulic seat by the University of Birmingham Hospitals NHS trust. It can be raised up to support him in a standing position while operating and has braces that lock around his knees which can be tilted and lean him over the patient. Pictured: Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, where Mohammed works 

But while he said it was emotional for them to see it for the first time, they had a good time together.

More than a year after the accident, in June 2022, he was able to come home. 

He said that he now understands what patients are going through even more because of what he has been through and thinks it has made him a better doctor. 

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