Cyclist nominates surgeon who got him back in saddle

Lee Sweetlove is cycling again after ending up in hospital

Lee Sweetlove is cycling again after ending up in hospital

First published in News Bicester Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by , Health reporter, also covering Kidlington. Call me on 01865 425271

LEE Sweetlove is back on his bike thanks to a city surgeon he is nominating for our Hospital Hero awards.

The keen mountain biker broke his back in two places in a cycling accident in 2010.

But the Oxford academic made a full recovery after an operation at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Headington.

And now he is nominating his surgeon Prof Chris Lavy for our Hospital Heroes awards, which honour hospital staff who go the extra mile for us when we most need it.

We have teamed up with Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust to honour outstanding individuals and a brilliant teams – be they nurses, doctors, support staff or admin.

Readers can nominate any hardworking employee from the trust, which also runs Oxford’s John Radcliffe and Churchill hospitals and Banbury’s Horton General.

Prof Sweetlove, an Oxford University professor of plant sciences, came off his bike in July 2010 at Leckhampton Hill, near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

The 43-year-old, of The Drive, Enstone, said: “I was cycling down the hill and had to jump a ramp and ended up going over the handlebars in the air and landed on my head – not recommended.”

A friend raised the alarm and he was taken to Cheltenham General Hospital and, after an X-ray, flown by helicopter to the John Radcliffe for specialist care.

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Two days later Prof Lavy inserted titanium bolts into Prof Sweetlove’s spine at the JR to hold it together.

Within two months he was cycling to physiotherapy and in 2012 had the bolts removed.

As a thank-you, last September he cycled 16 mountain passes with two friends over about 250 miles in the Italian Dolomites in five days to raise £2,880 for a charity set up by Prof Lavy.

Belt CURE International Hospital sees more than 20,000 children a year for conditions like club foot in Malawi, Africa, where Prof Lavy worked for a decade.

Prof Sweetlove said: “He really went above and beyond the call of duty.

“Leading up to the original surgery I saw numerous doctors and he was the first to show complete control of what he was doing and also real human compassion.”

With a risk of paralysis from the surgery, he said the doctor’s manner was key, adding: “He knew what I was going through.”

He said of the ride: “It was a real test of endurance and character, but it was fun and there was a huge sense of achievement.”

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  • Prof Lavy

Prof Lavy said that he was “overwhelmed” to be nominated and said: “It is the most brilliant thing to see someone who is injured and can hardly move through some surgery and to get them walking again.”


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