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Paramedic left disabled after wrong part of brain removed during botched biopsy

View profile for Judith Thomas-Whittingham
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A retired paramedic was left disabled and requiring 24 hour care after a surgeon removed the wrong part of his brain during a botched operation.

John Tunney, from Sutton Coldfield, underwent a biopsy on a pituitary tumour but the surgeon removed healthy brain tissue which caused a serious haemorrhage.

The biopsy was later found to be totally unnecessary as blood tests carried out prior to the biopsy showed Mr Tunney had a benign condition called prolactinoma, which could have been treated with medication. However, clinicians failed to review the blood tests prior to carrying out the biopsy.

Mr Tunney, now 63, has been left with permanent brain damage including memory loss and partial loss of sight. He is unable to walk without the aid of a walking stick. He requires constant supervision and assistance from his family as he is now unable to manage his own affairs.

Mr Tunney’s wife, Pamela, said: “John’s brain injury has had devastating effects on him. Prior to the surgery, he was a very easygoing person who was always active and on the go. To see the change in him and to know that it was all entirely avoidable is extremely upsetting.

“As a paramedic, John put his complete trust in his surgeon, believing that he was an expert who knew best. This mistake is not something the hospital can just take back.

“I pray they don’t make this mistake again and that no other family has to experience seeing their husband suffer the pain and loss that John has.”

University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust has admitted liability, enabling Mr Tunney to pursue a claim for compensation to provide him with the lifelong medical care he now requires.

Richard Kennedy, Chief Medical Officer at the Trust, said: ‘I very much regret the tragic outcome for Mr Tunney and his family and on behalf of the Trust would like to apologise for this.

The General Medical Council has been called to investigate the conduct of the surgeon responsible.

If you believe that you have received surgical treatment below a reasonable standard then we have a dedicated team of clinical negligence solicitors who would be happy to advise you further. Call us for free initial advice on 01616 966 229.

By clinical negligence specialist, Katie Nolan