Rosehearty man left waiting for life-changing operation

Michael Cull is still waiting for a life-changing operation on his leg.
Michael Cull is still waiting for a life-changing operation on his leg.

A man from Rosehearty has spoken to the Fraserburgh Herald about his ‘frustration’ over delays to a life-changing operation on his leg.

Michael Cull - who suffers from an extremely rare disease called elephantiasis - has been left unsure of when, where and if any treatment will take place to reduce the massive swelling of his leg.

Speaking to the Herald, Mr Cull said he was told as recently as September last year that he would be having an operation on his leg at Castlehill Hospital in Hull within months.

Then, in October, Mr Cull says he was contacted by the hospital by phone - and was told he would no longer be receiving the operation in Hull due to his clinician’s concerns over aftercare. Mr Cull was also advised that his best course of action would be to have the procedure done closer to home, perhaps in Aberdeen, to reduce the swelling.

Mr Cull says he has never had any confirmation of the operation being cancelled, only a single phone call from the hospital in Hull.

Four months later, Mr Cull is now still waiting to find out when, where and if any treatment or operation will take place under NHS care.

The 66-year-old has also contacted his MSP, Stewart Stevenson, in a bid to find out if any treatment is likely to be forthcoming.

Due to his concern over complications developing as time passes, Mr Cull has said he is now preparing for the worst-case scenario - that his leg may have to be amputated and replaced by a prosthetic limb.

Meanwhile, daily life continues to be a struggle for the Rosehearty resident - in particular with the cost of larger shoes, specially-made trousers, a heightened risk of falling and the pain and the psychological effects associated with the swelling.

Mr Cull first noticed a change in the appearance of his leg 11 years ago following a road accident. But it wasn’t until six years ago that the swelling started to develop into its current state.

Doctors believe the cause of the elephantiasis may be due to a parasite which lay dormant in Mr Cull’s leg since childhood, having been brought up in Latin America.

During his formative years, Michael was told by nuns at the missionary school which he attended that he survived a plane crash in the Amazon area in 1948 while still a baby. He has no idea who his birth parents were or even their nationality.

Along with his adoptive parents, Michael moved to London when he was 12 years old.

Despite continuing to wait for news of an operation, Mr Cull hopes not to have to put his life on hold, and is due to deliver university lectures on astronomy later this year.

Commenting on his plight, Michael said: “I’m absolutely furious about the whole thing.

“I still don’t know why Hull pulled out of doing the operation and I’ve had nothing in writing to explain why. I was referred to Hull so why did they pull out at the last minute?

“The excuse was that it would be better to be done in Aberdeen for aftercare, that’s the impression I got.”