Local NHS staff and patient part of new Channel 4 documentary

Peter The Human Guinea Pig
(Last Updated On: August 24, 2020)

NHS staff from Torbay and South Devon will be in the spotlight as part of a forthcoming Channel 4 documentary about a local patient’s incredible journey with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) airing next week.

Local man, Dr Peter Scott-Morgan, 62, was diagnosed with MND in 2017. MND typically limits life expectancy to two years from diagnosis. However, Peter, an internationally renowned robotics scientist, refused to accept this fate and mapped his own future combining radical surgery with artificial intelligence and robotics technology.

Peter said: “This was the NHS at its very best. Everyone involved went out on a limb for me, and I can’t stress enough the impact. I’m now almost totally ‘locked-in’ but, dare I say it, my quality of life is extraordinary. I have purpose. I’m having fun. I’m now not just surviving – I’m THRIVING!”

Listening to Peter’s wishes, staff at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust were keen to support Peter in his desire to live as full a life as possible, despite his prognosis and offer him a new lease of life. The surgery and on-going support reflect one of the Trust’s main aims; focusing on what is important to individuals, enabling them to live their lives as they would want to.

Under the care of the Trust’s highly skilled, medical professionals, Peter underwent two landmark sets of major surgery to pre-empt the inevitable effects of MND and prepare him to live with the impact of the disease.

Firstly, a triple-ostomy (fitting stomas in to the bladder, colon and stomach) to enable him to maintain nutrition and continue toiletry functions with dignity as Peter’s ability to eat and drink diminished. This innovative surgery, although involving procedures carried out routinely for patients with a variety of conditions, was radical as the three procedures were carried out in a single operation, which is believed never to have been performed simultaneously on an MND patient anywhere before.

Secondly, an elective laryngectomy, resulting in Peter sacrificing his voice in order to save his own life, allow him to continue breathing and to avoid contracting potentially fatal pneumonia. In this landmark pre-emptive procedure Mr Philip Reece (the consultant Ear Nose and Throat surgeon) performed what is believed to be the first ever elective laryngectomy on someone with MND in the UK.

Peter has compensated for losing his voice via state-of-the-art technology. He communicates by generating his own voice (recorded before he lost it) via sophisticated computer software linked to a screen on which he spells out words using his eyes.

Dr Maree Wright, Associate Specialist in Anaesthesia at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It has been a privilege to be part of Peter’s journey and work together with many other professionals to give him the opportunity to push forward the boundaries whilst living with MND.”

Mr Philip Reece (consultant Ear Nose and Throat surgeon) said: “It has been both thought provoking and a great privilege to know, work with and help Peter. What has been done has been a paradigm shift in the management in some of those with MND. It will not be the right way for some sufferers, but I believe it is for Peter and will help others in the future.”

Watch Peter’s incredible story, titled Peter: The Human Cyborg on Channel 4 (9pm this Wednesday, 26 August).

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