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A great-great-grandfather flew a 10,000 mile round trip for knee surgery because he did not trust the NHS after he lost a leg when they bungled a previous operation.
Battling Ken Austin, 80, refused to go through the NHS again after a knee replacement on his right leg ended up with him losing the limb completely because the surgeons had mistakenly severed an artery.
When faced with a similar operation on his other leg, the pensioner from Halifax, West Yorkshire, decided to spend his savings on flying to India for the procedure instead.
Mr Austin, who has just returned from the trip, said: "It's a sad case that you pay all your taxes and then don't get the service. I realise it was a tricky operation I had, but I did not trust them."
He added: "It is strange to think that I have gone to a poor country for an operation."
Mr Austin refused to go through another knee replacement on the NHS after surgery last year led to him losing his right leg and flew to India for the procedure instead
The former foster carer's knees have been deteriorating due to his age for years and he had his first knee replacement operation on his right leg in 1993.
When the pain in his right leg came back last year, he was told he needed another knee.
He was told by surgeons at Bradford Royal Infirmary that it could be risky cutting through old scar tissue but decided to go ahead because he considered himself to be in the best hands.
But the decision ended up costing him his leg after surgeons blundered and severed an artery.
Mr Austin said: "While I was in theatre, an artery was severed, cutting off the blood supply through my leg and foot, and what should have been an eight-day stay turned into an eight-month nightmare.
"The flesh on my right leg began to die and turn black.
"When ulcers started appearing all over my leg, maggots were used to try to fix the problem but eventually I was left with little choice but to have the leg removed, which was done in January last year."
He added: "I couldn't believe this had happened to me. I was always an active chap, I like to travel, do a spot of gardening and I love to get out in the car for a drive. It really hit me hard.
"I knew that the operation may have been a bit tricky, but what was my alternative, a wheelchair, in pain for the rest of my life? There was no way I was going to do that."
Mr Austin found a surgeon in Chennai through a friend
Mr Austin had to have a false leg and to walk with a stick after the failed operation.
The horrific experience meant that when his left knee started to go seven months later, the pensioner began to look at other options.
He said: "I couldn't go through the heartache I had been through before...
"I'd heard of people going to India for surgery so I started asking around and found out a friend, who lives in Greece, had been to India for surgery without the wait of the NHS and the cost of going private.
"He said he had such a great experience that I decided that is what I would do. I dare not trust the NHS with my last leg, I could not lose everything"
The wait for an operation in India is shorter and it only costs £5,000 pounds, including travel, compared to £9,000 pounds in England.
Mr Austin contacted the Bharathi Raja Hospital in Chennai and by the end of the year, was in the operating theatre receiving treatment from Dr A K Venkatachalam, a UK-trained consultant orthopaedic surgeon.
He said: "I'm delighted with the results. I am completely fine now and on my way home did a detour and visited my friend in Greece to show off my new knee. I'm off to Cuba too this year."
He now says that if he ever has more problems with his knees, he would not think twice before going back to India instead of using the NHS.
"I'm lucky because I can afford it with my savings, others may not be so lucky," he said.
Please click here to request additional information from Dr. Venkatachalam.
2008-02-12 / Updated on: 2021-01-08