Tom was attacked by a dog and had to undergo several painful reconstructions to his nose. In July 2018, Tom spoke to Channel 5 about his story as part of the NHS 70th birthday. Watch the report here
Tom, an advertising sales manager in his twenties, had just started a new job and was out for a night with his mates from work. They'd had a few drinks at a party and were on their way home when they stopped at a petrol station in the East End of London to call for a taxi. His friends were buying supplies in the shop, and Tom stopped to stroke a dog that was tied up outside the garage. The dog let himself be petted, but as Tom turned away the dog suddenly leapt up and their faces collided. He felt blood gush from his nose. "At first I thought the dog had head-butted me and it was just a nose-bleed," says Tom.
The owner of the dog came out, as the ambulance and police arrived. One policeman checked out the dog, quickly concluding that it was a bull mastiff and not on the dangerous dogs list. "The other suggested that it was my fault for petting the dog," Tom says, and the owner was allowed to take the dog home. "I waited for hours in the hospital, thinking a few stitches would be enough - I still didn?t realise the dog had taken off a large chunk off my nose." When the plastic surgeon arrived he was shown the tip that the dog had bitten off, which Tom's friend had collected from the forecourt and carried to hospital in a bag with frozen peas.
The surgeons did their best to sew the tip back on but this was just the start of several operations over three years to rebuild his face. Within a few weeks the replaced tip started to die, turn black and smell really bad of decaying flesh. As he waited for the operation Tom went through the hell of 3-4 weeks with white gauze on the end of his nose. He could still breathe and eat, but without the bandage, he looked most peculiar and people were quite taken aback when they saw him. A maxillofacial surgeon was called in to design a solution. Tom was offered a choice of having skin taken from his cheek or forehead to create a new nose tip. In the end a triangle of skin from his eyebrow to hairline was pulled down with the blood supply still attached and was fitted to what was left of his nose. Several more operations were needed to sculpt the nose into a normal shape, using a tiny piece of cartilage taken from his left ear, which now sticks out at a slightly different angle. During other operations, the tip was adjusted a bit at a time and the excess fat from the forehead skin was trimmed. One patch of the nose died again and scabbed over, scarring Tom that he'd have to go through all that again, but this turned out to be manageable. His nose today looks perfectly normal, though Tom can tell that one nostril is slightly different to before, and he notices the scar on his forehead more than anyone else.
Now he's happily married to Jacqui, who he met soon after the second operation and has a young son Hector.