Published: 00:01, 06 April 2014
A breast cancer survivor who nearly died after bungled operations by a now-disgraced surgeon is suing the hospital trust.
Grandmother-of-two Margaret Erskine was left deformed after going under the knife of Kent and Canterbury Hospital surgeon David Jackson, who was struck off the medical register last week.
The decision meant he dodged facing 75 other misconduct charges relating to 16 patients dating back to 1989, which are said to have included bungling operations, covering up mistakes and misdiagnosing serious conditions.
Mrs Erskine may have survived her ordeal, unlike Whitstable cancer victim Jill Phillips, but the physical and emotional scars of her near-death experience continue to haunt her.
The 74-year-old, of Central Parade in Herne Bay, was referred to Jackson for breast reconstruction surgery eight years after undergoing a mastectomy for cancer in the early 1990s.
Jackson is said to have agreed to a complicated TRAM flap procedure without telling Mrs Erskine about the risks – and without having the necessary experience.
The procedure involved removing muscle and tissue from the abdomen and transferring it to the breast, but despite the failure of the operation and the onset of an infection, Jackson sent Mrs Erskine home.
Mrs Erskine said: “He was very charming and persuasive and at the time I believed what he told me.
“I had total faith in him because he was the doctor.”
He later operated again to try to remove the infection, leaving Mrs Erskine with deformed skin at the top of her breast and a black scar resembling a tortoiseshell pattern on her stomach.
In another attempt to repair the damage, Jackson is said to have operated on the dead skin and scarring, leaving severe bleeding, during an outpatients’ appointment at the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital in Herne Bay.
Unbeknown to Mrs Erskine, she had contracted the potentially deadly blood infection septicaemia – but it was covered up by Jackson who failed to keep accurate notes.
She said: “I couldn’t get out of bed or eat anything. Food was like poison. I felt so poorly and was sure I was on my way out.”
Her husband Mick, 76, who cared for her during this time, added: “It was a horror story. We had no idea how much danger she was in. She’s been left deformed.”
Mrs Erskine eventually recovered and went on to rebuild her life, but the trauma continued.
She explained: “I felt I was very lucky to survive. I learned to live to the best of my ability with the mess I was left in.
“But life became difficult. I no longer felt able to take pride in my appearance. I was too embarrassed to bathe and no longer went shopping for clothes which I used to enjoy.
“I couldn’t get out of bed or eat anything. Food was like poison. I felt so poorly and was sure I was on my way out" - Margaret Erskine
“Bras and nightgowns were uncomfortable and still are. Trousers don’t fit well as the scar interferes with the waist band.”
It was not until Jackson hit the headlines and the extent of his negligence was exposed that Mrs Erskine re-evaluated her own treatment.
She then discovered how close to death she had come, and how under-qualified Jackson was to carry out the breast reconstruction.
She said: “It really hit me for six. I’ve had a lot of personal trauma and difficulty in my life but I’m a very strong person, used to coping and getting on with things.
“To know that he shouldn’t have done the operation and was not what he presented himself to be has made me hugely upset.”
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