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Saturday 24 August 2019
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Helping Helen art 1
Picture shows Phil with H5 ward staff, along with Dr Smurthwaite, Dr Large and Nurse Practitioner Victoria Whiteley.

H5 remembers Helen with her art

Ward H5 were delighted to welcome back Phil Pattinson to unveil a piece of art his late partner Helen painted.


Last year Helen became the first patient to undergo breakthrough surgery at Salford Royal to help correct her spine.


Helen had Ankylosing Spondylitis, a long term chronic condition affecting the spine and other parts of the body. Helen had lived with the condition for 45 years and courageously didn't allow it to hold her back from her passions in life, which included travelling, art and writing and performing poetry.


However, in recent years Helen's condition had worsened and since 2016 Helen lived her day to day life with her chin resting on her chest, causing many significant problems for her, including eating and mobility.


Helen had been turned down for surgery by another hospital due to the complexity of her condition. There were concerns that the surgery she needed could not be carried out as Helen would not be able to be safely positioned during her operation.


Salford Royal Anaesthetists Doctors Glyn Smurthwaite and John Large were determined to find a way that Helen could receive the surgery she so vitally needed. They worked with a range of colleagues within the organisation, including Medical Physics, along with Barclays Eagle Lab, to use 3D digital printing technology to ultimately create a support for Helen to be safely positioned on during the operation.

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Helping Helen art 2

In July, 2018, Helen was able to undergo the 15-hour operation to break and then straighten her spine. She then spent several weeks recovering on H5 before going home to Yorkshire to start her recovery.


The story behind Helen’s pioneering surgery is the subject of the short film ‘Helping Helen’ which can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7x98GTuJcF8


Sadly, Helen passed away in April this year but we continue to use the film with Phil’s full support.


On Friday, Phil came back to H5 to donate a piece of Helen’s art – entitled Take Three Girls – which he wanted the ward and the Trust to have as a thank you to the care provided to Helen.


Phil said: “She’d have been so pleased and proud to see the painting on display.”


Dr Smurthwaite said it was a pleasure to welcome Phil back. He said: “We obviously stayed in touch with Phil and Helen following Helen’s operation to watch her recovery and progress. It’s of course incredibly sad to be back in Phil’s company without Helen. Helen’s painting now has a very special place on H5 and we thank Phil for his ongoing offer of support so that we can make this surgery possible for other patients.”