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Man has “life-changing” operation after being attacked by burglars

Kevin (centre) with Valentina and Ian (Credit: BHRUT)

A man has had a life-changing operation at Queen’s Hospital after being badly hurt while trying to stop burglars from robbing his neighbour.

Kevin Holmes, 59, suffers from a debilitating form of Dystonia which causes his neck to twist to the side of its own accord. 

Neurosurgeon Ian Low has completed a procedure to weaken the overactive muscle that was causing the contractions by cutting off its nerve supply. 

“I can look straight ahead now and no longer experience the pain and eye strain I was having,” said Kevin. 

“It’s allowed me to live a much better life and I feel very lucky to have been offered this procedure.”

Kevin started having symptoms of Dystonia in 2008, five years after he was beaten and had a brick dropped on his head while trying to stop burglars who were targeting his neighbour’s home.

His condition worsened and he eventually lost the use of an arm. It forced him to retire early from his job as a civil servant and he could not sit at a computer for longer than 15 minutes. 

He had other procedures, including surgery and deep brain stimulation, to keep the condition at bay but they eventually stopped working. 

That was when Ian suggested he carry out selective peripheral denervation (SPD), a surgery technique he had learned in Japan while on sabbatical. 

Kevin added: “As I was the first to be offered the operation I was a bit nervous but I had complete faith in my surgeon. I’m very happy now. I’d had to give up driving and I am now thinking of resuming that.

“I feel like family life has been in limbo for several years so I’m hoping to do more with them now, even go on holiday. I couldn’t before because of the pain.”

The surgery only took three hours to complete. Neurphysiologist Valentina Simioni helped identify the correct nerve before Ian cut off its connection to the brain. 

After just one night in hospital, Kevin was able to return home. Living without the painful neck twist has allowed him to resume a much better quality of life, including being able to sleep longer than a few hours each night, and enjoying his model-building hobby.

For more on this story, and the latest on our other local and national news, listen to Time 107.5FM

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