Former BBC war correspondent has face rebuilt by London surgeons
PUBLISHED: 17:00 09 January 2019
A former war correspondent who began his BBC career in Norwich has had his face rebuilt by surgeons after tripping over his suitcases in Gatwick airport.
Martin Bell OBE, 80, who worked for the BBC in Norwich before becoming a war corespondent, broke his nose and several major bones in his face when he fell to the floor in the airport’s train ticket office concourse in November.
Originally seen at East Surrey Hospital, when the extent of his injuries became clear the former journalist and MP was immediately transferred to St George’s Hospital for specialist maxillofacial surgery.
Undergoing a two-and-a-half-hour operation, specialist surgeons rebuilt Mr Bell’s face by re-attaching his upper mouth to his jawbone and inserting four titanium plates and 16 screws into his face to repair the different facial fractures he sustained in the fall.
Doctors also had to re-aligned the octogenarian’s broken nose back into position.
Mr Bell said: “After the accident, I bore a striking resemblance to Dracula’s grandfather. However, the team at East Surrey and St George’s really looked after me, so I am privileged, from personal experience and with a hole in my head, to sing the praises of the nurses, doctors and surgeons who work for and with the Maxillofacial Surgery Unit at St George’s.
“I have not led a sheltered life, but like most people I know little about the specialist branches of medicine until I come to need them, usually at short notice. So it was with Maxillofacial Surgery and the people who practice it – and we are truly lucky to have them.”
Helen Witherow, consultant oral and maxillofacial surgeon, who operated on Mr Bell added: “The surgery involved repairing Mr Bell’s fractures using titanium plates and screws, and these remain in place permanently. We are pleased to hear he is so well, and so positive about his experience of the care our team provided.”
Mr Bell who grew up in Redisham, near Halesworth, joined the BBC in Norwich, in 1962 after graduating from Cambridge University, he moved to London three years later where he soon started covering conflicts across the world.
In the late 1990s he ran and served as MP for Tatton, in Cheshire.