NHS surgeon first in UK to perform an operation after becoming paralysed in freak accident

A surgeon in the West Midlands paralysed after a tree fell on him while out cycling has returned his job after undergoing intensive rehabilitation.

Surgeon Mo Belal returns to work at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham
Surgeon Mo Belal returns to work at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham

Mohammed Belal, known as Mo, was in hospital for five months and underwent over 1,000 hours of rehab after the accident in February last year.

He had been cycling in the countryside with a friend, a hobby he had taken up during the pandemic, when a tree fell on him – leaving him paralysed.

But now he has returned to the job he loves at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, meaning he can help others but from a special wheelchair.

He was set to make history yesterday by becoming the first paralysed medic in the UK to perform an operation.

He said: “The greatest moment of my rehab’ has been coming back to work. It was really humbling to get letters from my patients; they helped me realise that I needed to come back to doing the job I love.

“It is easy to forget the difference we make to our patients, but, being on the receiving side, has renewed my love for what we do. A positive mental attitude has been my secret weapon, along with the love and support of family, friends and colleagues."

Mo said he recalled being unable to move after he broke his back. He was taken to the nearest hospital for emergency surgery, before being transferred to the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital for spinal surgery – where rods were inserted into his spine to keep it stable.

Prior to his accident, Mo helped people who have suffered spinal injuries, much like his own, and his work included reconstructing bladders for cancer patients. He had worked on the Covid-19 wards and in ITU during the pandemic and cycling had become a way for him to unwind.

Mo now uses a wheelchair which supports him to stand and lean forward meaning he is able to continue doing the job he loves so much. He also continues to do two to three hours of rehab’ a day.

He added: “This journey will make me a better clinician. It has given me a renewed appreciation for the difference the NHS makes. I am beyond grateful to the NHS, in particular UHB, who have pulled out all the stops to enable me to carry on doing the job I love.”

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