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Doctors cut man’s healthy lung out

Firefighter ‘wrongly diagnosed with cancer’

By Kirsty Taylor

Published: 11/08/2008

OPERATION: Doctors at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary removed one of Laurence Ball’s lungs after he had a chest infection.

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A FIREFIGHTER whose healthy lung was removed in an alleged Aberdeen hospital blunder today said his life had been left ruined.

Doctors at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary allegedly removed Laurence Ball’s healthy lung after he was wrongly diagnosed with cancer.

The 58-year-old said he was told he had a tumour in his lung and had surgery to remove it.

But he said doctors later told him there had never been any cancer, and he had not needed the operation.

Mr Ball said his life has been ruined by the ordeal.

The firefighter, who has commendations for saving lives, is planning legal action against NHS Grampian – which he claimed has never apologised or explained the error.

He said: “I have lost everything – my job, my health – and I have had years of what should have been a happy retirement stolen from me.

“To say that I was shocked doesn’t really do it justice.

“I was exhilarated to have survived the operation and then to be told that I didn’t have cancer.”

The problems started when Mr Ball had a chest infection and was sent for tests at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

He said he was told he had cancer in his left lung, and had non-small lung cancer cells.

But after removing his lung the surgeon called him to tell him he would not need chemotherapy as there had never been any cancer.

Mr Ball, of Shetland, told how an almost fatal pneumothorax – where his remaining lung collapsed – saw him go under the same surgeon’s knife again. He said: “I suffered a collapse of my remaining lung which resulted in me nearly losing my life.”

Mr Ball’s wife drove him to Gilbert Bain Hospital in Shetland where he was taken by air ambulance to ARI to be operated on again.

Mr Ball said: “I would not have needed the second operation if they hadn’t taken my healthy lung in the first place. I put my life in their hands twice – you have got to trust them – there is nothing else you can do.

“We are very disappointed that we have received no explanation, apology or compensation for all my wife and I have been through.”

An NHS Grampian spokesman said it would be inappropriate to comment on the case.


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