"I’m living proof why Southend needs the new keyhole surgery theatre"
13 March 2014
As AW80D reaches 10,000 miles and £10,000 – hospital volunteer Clair urges people to support fundraising initiative.
Talk to Clair Gray and you wouldn't know she is still recovering
from having surgery in November (2013). The lively 41-year old from
Great Wakering is in the full bloom of health - but her situation
could have been quite different.
The popular 'Friends and Family' volunteer at Southend Hospital
suffered from endometriosis. This is a common condition in women
and girls - where tissue that behaves like the lining of the
womb (the endometrium) is found outside the womb - and ultimately
led to Clair having a hysterectomy in January 2013.
"Because my endometriosis was so bad, a procedure to remove the
womb had led to my bowel being torn. I was recovering from my
operation when I developed anaphylactic shock. A consequence of
that, was that I required a stoma procedure (more frequently known
as a colostomy, in which a section of the large intestine (colon)
is diverted by surgery through an opening in the stomach), which
was quite unusual for someone of my age and with my particular
As Clair began to adjust to life with the stoma, it was a
conversation with surgeon Miss Esther Fine that gave her fresh hope
for a better solution.
"She told me that she felt that by using laparoscopy, rather
than open surgery, she could reattach my bowel. Previously, I'd had
to have an incision from my belly button to my public bone, so the
keyhole procedure was less invasive and offered an almost complete
chance of a full recovery. I was so nervous before my second
operation but Miss Fine reassured me, and she was right. She and
her team were great and the operation proved to be the best thing
I've done. I was only in hospital for four days and although I'm
still recovering, I'm back to volunteering, which I
Clair - who is married to husband Alex and is mum to two teenage
sons, Jacob (13) and Joshua (19) - added: "The reversal procedure
will aid my recovery overall and it is important that Southend
Hospital can offer faster recovery times, enabling busy people to
get back on their feet and on with their lives a lot
To help people like Clair and many more besides, with a wide
range of medical needs, Southend Hospital recently launched an
appeal to raise £600,000 for a new state-of-the-art keyhole
theatre. The new facility will increase the quality and quantity of
a wide variety of the surgery performed at Southend University
The first initiative to generate the cash is AW80D. Inspired by
Jules Verne's epic 'Around the World in Eighty Days' tale, it's
taking five bicycles around Essex and asking individuals or groups
of friends to raise some money and cycle the equivalent of sixty
miles to achieve a target of 24,901.55 miles, or the circumference
of the globe.
Launched on 1 February 2014, over 10,000 miles has been
accomplished already, raising £10,000 en route.
"I think it is amazing,"says Clair. "Unfortunately, I can't
cycle at the moment but I really want to get stuck into helping
raise funds and creating further awareness. Creating a high-tech
operating theatre for people who require minimally invasive surgery
at Southend Hospital will be of huge benefit to residents of the
area and because laparoscopy isn't widely known about, this is a
really important campaign."
To get involved in AW80D, visit www.sh-cf.org or contact the
Southend Hospital Fundraising team on 01702 385337 or firstname.lastname@example.org