The story behind the image
The main theme of our research is to help those in intensive care survive. Currently one in five of us will end up in intensive care due to an illness, infection or accident. Sadly, around one fifth of those admitted will not survive.
We work with doctors, nurses and members of the public to try to find a way to lower this statistic. Many of those working with us have experience of either working in ICU or have been in ICU to visit a relative or friend, or been a patient. One of those people is Dr David Hillebrandt and he kindly donated the image you see on the front page of our website and those in the gallery below. David had climbed with many Xtreme Everest and CASE Medicine members long before the first research trip to Cho Oyu. They also help him in his recovery, joining in with him on his walks and climbs. David says "As a GP I do admire the work many of them do for patients on ICUs so if my photos make their lectures more relevant to the people on their units that is an important contribution."
Some may find the image shocking, others may be fascinated from a medical point of view and for some it may bring back memories of their own or a loved one's time in ICU. For us the image encapsulates our research. This is who we are trying to help, this is who we want to survive. By helping to fund our research, or by taking part in our studies, or simply by telling friends and colleagues about us we can help more people to survive.
David ended up in ICU because of an acute onset of necrotising pancreatitis, secondary to gallstones. This led to him experiencing multi-organ failure, which left him needing mechanical ventilation, cardiac inotropes, renal dialysis, chest drains and involving a pancreatic necrosectomy. This involves the removal of dead tissue, either by aspiration or open surgery. He was ventilated for 40 days, and stayed in hospital for a total of four months which included visiting community hospital rehab.
Dr Hillebrandt was more than happy for us to use his image on our site and in lectures that we give. He tells us "As a family we take photos at weddings and also at funerals since it is rare we all get together so we have an “odd” attitude. My children visited from their respective universities to support Sally, my wife and in the knowledge that it may be to say goodbye to me. My son took photos which surprised the staff. His comment was “if he lives he will love them for lectures, if he dies he will not know we have taken them”
When he was asked why would you want to share these kinds of images he said "As a GP I get more and more angry with the politically correct policy of not showing patients faces and keeping things anonymous. It serves to dehumanise patients especially on ICU where, despite the technology, the human touch is still vital for the family and the patient"
David has now made a full recovery, as as evident in the gallery on the right hand side. He is now back to taking part in extreme sports, including climbing, skiing and kayaking.