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Wednesday 03 April 2024

Episode 2 of 'Surgeons: At the Edge of Life' airing on 3 April

Tonight sees the second episode of the highly-acclaimed BBC series Surgeons: At The Edge Of Life hit our TV screens and it promises to be another nail-biting hour for viewers!

We hope you are enjoying seeing UHS showcased in such a prestigious way – we have been told that an incredible 1.6m people tuned in to watch last week, beating viewing audiences watching BBC1, Channel 4 and Channel 5 that night.

There has also been some incredible feedback, particularly across our social media channels, with people praising our brilliant staff and the skill of our surgeons.

Hot on the heels of last week’s programme – the first in a six-part series filmed here at UHS through spring and summer last year – this evening’s show will shine a light on our maxillofacial and urology teams.

Every year at University Hospital Southampton, our surgeons perform more than 8,000 cancer surgeries. Often an operation is the only option available to improve, extend or even save a life.

Tonight’s episode is not for the faint hearted as 76-year-old lorry driver, Mick, has his eye removed so that a cancer that is growing deep behind it can be removed. Mick’s face then has to be reconstructed.

It’s a rare operation, carried out here by Maxillofacial Consultant Sanjay Sharma alongside his colleague Ethu (Madan Ethunandan).

Just ten operations like this are carried out in the UK every year. Without the procedure, Mick would die.

To reach the cancer, Ethu must open Mick’s right eye cavity and release the nerves, muscle and vessels inside it, but without puncturing the thin roof of the socket which could injure his brain. Only then can he remove the eye, the tumour and the contents of the socket.

At the same time, Sanjay harvests a flap of skin and tissue with blood vessels attached from Mick’s left thigh to use in the reconstruction.

Making this already difficult operation even more risky, is the fact that Mick has been on blood thinners until 48 hours before his operation, which increases the chance of excessive bleeding.

Mick’s case is one of many complex high risk operations here at UHS which can only be attempted by teams of surgeons working closely together.

That’s the case for Urology consultant Vicky Dawson and her mentor Julian Smith who have an elderly patient who urgently needs a lifesaving operation.

Norman, 83, has been successfully treated for prostate cancer, but now has cancer in his bladder, so both his bladder and prostate need to be removed. Vicky and Julian know this will be challenging.

And then the entire operation is placed in jeopardy when Norman, who has a pre-existing heart issue, develops an irregular heart rhythm as he’s being anaesthetised. If anaesthetist Carolyn Way can’t get Norman’s heart rate under control, the cancer curing operation will have to be abandoned, with the more immediate worry that Norman could have a heart attack.

The programme will also spotlight the work of our clinical engineering teams, who use their diverse range of expertise to manage and maintain vital medical equipment throughout the hospital.

Tune in on BBC2 at 9pm or catch up on BBC iPlayer.