WHEN Paul Twell’s life was left in the “hands of God” after a horrific car accident, he had no idea of how important a specialist hospital would become in his life.
But today he owes his life and the life of one of his three-year-old twin daughters to the world-renowned surgeons who carried out complicated operations on their hearts 11 years apart.
Now he and his wife, from Gosberton Risegate, are desperate that the Glenfield Hospital in Leicester does not fall victim to the axe under a national review of specialist children’s heart surgery units.
In 1997 Paul, now 37, was travelling to see his then-girlfriend Sally when he was involved in an accident at a junction near Gosberton.
His ribcage was crushed and his pelvis shattered. He was rushed to hospital, where doctors quickly transferred him to Leicester with a suspected aortic aneurysm.
Sally, who became Paul’s wife in 2000, said: “He was not expected to survive. No-one could be sure whether the aneurysm was pre-existing or caused by the crash, but it could have gone off at any time and killed him.
“It was difficult to operate because of his smashed ribs, but they fitted an artificial arterial graft and to everyone’s surprise Paul made a full recovery.”
After they married they struggled to conceive, but after four attempts at IVF daughter Savannah, now five, was born.
A further two attempts resulted in Sally (33) becoming pregnant with twins.
In July 2008 and after a long and exhausting labour Edie Grace was born, weighing 6lb 30z, followed 20 minutes later by Ava Rose, weighing 5lb 3oz.
Sally said: “Ava seemed pretty flat and floppy and minutes felt like hours before they came to tell us that Ava had started to breathe and would just need antibiotics.
“But Edie was very, very poorly because the two chambers of her heart that pump the blood were connected wrongly and she was going blue because deoxygenated blood was being pumped around her body
“It all happened very quickly and she was on a ventilator and had a full blood transfusion.
“We thank our lucky stars that Glenfield were able to take her. Straight away they operated to reopen a hole in her heart to keep oxygen pumping, until she was stable enough a week later to do the arterial switch that was required.”
The couple spent the following weeks backwards and forwards to Leicester.
Sally had not been discharged from hospital herself, so was returning to Peterborough at night. Ava was also in Peterborough in intensive care for the first few days.
She said: “It was torturous because Savannah was at home, Ava and I were in Peterborough and Edie was in Leicester, but Glenfield was fantastic.
“When things calmed down a bit we were all able to stay there in the family accomodation so we could be there when Edie woke up.
“It is really important that Glenfield doesn’t close – it is a one and a half hour journey but the alternative is Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, which would have taken much longer and added even more stress to what was already a nightmare.
“My family is now complete. The twins will be three in July and Edie is the picture of health. They are full of mischief, just the way they are supposed to be.
“None of this would be true if it hadn’t been for Glenfield Hospital.”