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Death of Farnborough man 'traumatic' experience for family

Family-man Derek Smy died at Royal Surrey County Hospital following an operation to treat a tumour in his pancreas

A family experienced 10 “traumatic days” in the lead up to their father’s death, an inquest has heard.

Derek Smy, 79, a former plumber and keen golfer from Farnborough, died following an operation to treat a tumour in his pancreas.

He was admitted to the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford on March 5 last year, but deteriorated after surgery and died on March 15.

His daughter Elaine Duffet described the ordeal as a “very traumatic 10 days”.

She said: “I was the bees knees in my dad’s eyes.

“I was his precious daughter.

“I know it was a big operation, but I did not realise it was as serious as that.”

Mr Smy was considered fit and well before having the operation to treat his cancer, his family was told at the inquest held at Woking Corners’ Court on Thursday (March 6).

At first Mr Smy made a good recovery, the court was told, but soon afterwards, his stomach swelled, he got an infection and toxins were released into his body.

He flitted between the intensive care unit and the high dependency unit at Royal Surrey.

Dr Karen Henderson, coroner, said Mr Smy did not have the reserves to survive the initial operation let along the second operation.

She said: “It clearly has shown from the evidence that your father was a little bit more frail than really appreciated.

“I have no doubt that the medical nurses made the correct decisions in the operation, they are equally distressed.”

'Small tumour'

Tim Worthington, hepatobiliary surgeon from Royal Surrey, said the operating procedure was "complex" but common.

“We do hundreds of these type of operations week in, week out,” he told the inquest.

“These type of tumours are serious, they can spread.

“He had a massive operation for a small tumour.

“It was about 1cm or so wide but we had to remove all possible site of spread.

“Clearly the risk is going to be higher in someone who is 80-years-old than someone who is 30-years-old.

“I think he struggled a little bit after the operation, there was clearly a degree of infection.”

Following his operation a drain was attached to his bed side to catch fluid such as digestive enzymes, the inquest heard.

Mr Smy’s wife, children and grandchildren visited him daily in hospital.

A few days after his second surgery, two of Mr Smy's granddaughters went to sit in with him.

“One of my daughters noticed blood in his tray and within half an hour he was back in theatre again,” Ms Duffet said.

The source of the bleeding was from a small artery that had been tied during the operation.

Mr Worthington said the infection could have cause the artery to erode.

As a result of the internal bleeding, his lungs, heart and kidneys started to suffer.

“We dedicate ourselves to patients like your father,” Mr Worthington said.

“But despite our efforts, two in 100 people do not come through.

“I don’t think I would have done anything different.”

Mr Smy died from recognised complications from his surgery, the coroner ruled.

His family set up a Just Giving page after his death to raise money for Cancer Research UK and have raised £350 for the charity so far.

 
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