A hand transplant surgeon, Dame Debs' doctor and a global responder up for Who Cares Wins Award | The Sun

WHERE would we be without talented doctors and ground-breaking surgeons?

These incredible healthcare stars don't just save lives, they come up with life-changing solutions and treatments that give people hope, confidence and more time with their families.

We were inundated with nominations for the Best Doctor category for The Sun's Who Cares Wins Awards – sponsored by the National Lottery, in partnership with NHS Charities Together.

But these three stood out for their work on hand transplants, willingness to travel the world treating people, and for working on bowel cancer care – Sun columnist Deborah James' doctor from The Royal Marsden has made the shortlist.

The winner will be announced at a ceremony hosted by the one and only Davina McCall and screened on Channel 4 and All 4 on November 27 at 6.30pm.

Here are our three fabulous finalists…

Professor Simon Kay

PROFESSOR Simon Kay successfully carried out the UK's first hand transplant in 2012 – and the pioneering plastic surgeon has been transforming the lives of his patients ever since. 

Prof Kay and his team at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust have undertaken 14 further hand transplants, making the UK a world leader in this field.

Mum-of-one Corinne Hutton, 52, had a double hand transplant in 2019 and has nominated him for the Best Doctor award.

She said: “I’ll never be able to thank Professor Kay enough for the life he’s given me back.”

Corinne, who lives in Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire, in Scotland with son Rory, 13, lost both her hands – and her legs below the knee – to sepsis in 2013.

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She spent six years on the waiting list while a suitable donor was found before undergoing the gruelling 12-hour surgery. 

Corinne, who runs a charity, Finding Your Feet, to raise awareness and support for amputees, said: “I was the first person in the UK to go on the double hand transplant waiting list but, because I’d had so many blood transfusions during my treatment, finding a match didn’t happen overnight.

“While I’ve had to do thousands of hours of rehab and physiotherapy, what Professor Kay did for me is life changing. I owe him everything. 

“He’s a great surgeon and he leads a fantastic team. I expected to get around 75 percent movement and sensitivity back but in my right hand I’ve got way more.

“It’s so intricate joining every vein, muscle and bone, the work he did is just amazing.

“Now, I can hug my son and ruffle his hair, even though he’s 13 and would rather I left him alone.”

Professor Kay, 70, was inspired to go into his field by a childhood injury in which he burnt his hand. 

He said: “My recovery started a lifelong fascination with hands.

“They’re vital not just mechanically but for communication and sensation. It’s incredibly difficult to live a full life without hands. 

“I worked with the team that went on to perform the very first hand transplant in America in 2000 and I ended up spearheading the UK Hand Transplant centre when I moved to Leeds.

“Corinne had a long wait because she was allergic to the proteins of almost all other human beings, but we finally found a match.

“It’s obviously a hugely complex surgery involving four different surgical teams. 

“We have to match bone, muscle, tissue, veins, and an entire blood supply from the donor to the recipient. 

“I’m incredibly proud of the team we’ve built at Leeds though. I couldn’t believe it when I heard I was nominated. 

“I know what we do is fairly unique but there are so many deserving doctors out there.”

Dr Freda Newlands 

AS an emergency medicine specialist, Dr Freda Newlands has travelled the world providing urgent medical care to those that need it most. 

Dr Newlands, from Dumfries and Galloway, in Scotland, recently spent two months in Ukraine with the frontline medical aid charity, UK-Med, treating victims of the war. The deployment was part-funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

She has also travelled to Bangladesh to treat patients in the Rohingya refugee camps during the deadly diphtheria outbreak in 2017. 

Dr Newlands, who has also spent time working in Jordan, Bhutan, Gaza, was inspired to get into medicine as a youngster growing up watching the news. 

She said: “I was always struck by the reports from foreign correspondents, on international famines and the innocent civilians who paid the price for wars in their countries.”

But the mum-of-two, 62, ended up becoming a biology teacher before starting medical school as a mature student in 2004.

Her first overseas post came in 2014, when she was posted on the northern Jordan border with Medecins Sans Frontieres. 

Dr Newlands said:  “It was harrowing and what I saw there remains some of the worst injuries I’ve had to treat.

“Children with really awful bomb blast injuries, mine blasts, three limb amputees, horrific burns. 

“It was my job to stabilise patients as an emergency doctor so they could go on to have surgery and rehabilitation.”

When Dr Newlands returned home, she registered as a member of UK-Med and worked in Bangladesh until 2018. 

She said: “There was a lot of disease and diphtheria there.”

From 2018 until 2019, she was part of the UK-Med co-ordination team. 

Dr Newlands said: “We’d work on emergency strategies and plan simulations so we’d be prepared for whatever we’d face when we were sent to help.

“In 2019 I volunteered in Bhutan. The challenges there are due to how remote everything is and how hard it is to get people to the medical help they need. 

“After Bhutan, I went to Gaza. But while I was on annual leave in 2020 the world shut down.”

Dr Newlands said it was an “honour” to work for NHS Dumfries and Galloway as an emergency department doctor during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Then, less than a week after the war in Ukraine started, she went out to the war stricken country with UK-Med, where she stayed for eight weeks. 

The brave doctor has been nominated for the award by colleague Richard Dear, 52, head of logistics for UK Med. 

He says: “I've worked with Freda since 2016, in the UK, Yangon, Myanmar and Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

“Freda brings so much more than just her medical care to her work as a doctor.

“Her medical care is of course excellent, and she delivers it with professionalism and calm in some of the most uncomfortable and dangerous settings. 

“What stands Freda out as a good doctor is her interactions and management of patients around the world, all cultures, languages and needs, but always with care, compassion and empathy.

“She is an inspirational leader, able to build and lead both deployed and national teams, building rapport and confidence with her colleagues, beneficiaries and the communities they live in. 

“Freda has a warm, open, empathetic and benevolent manner, but also a great sense of humour and comradery that takes the stress out of deploying into often volatile and insecure settings. 

“On the rare occasions on a deployment, if we get time off, and if the situation allows, she is fun with a great sense of adventure; great to spend down time with to unwind.

“Freda is always one of the first to drop everything at home, her family, her friends, and with the support of her colleagues deploy without question into whatever or wherever UK-Med need her expertise. 

“Freda does not make a song and dance about her humanitarian work either, it largely goes unnoticed and unmentioned outside her immediate circle. 

“Someone who takes these risks, and is this selfless, kind and giving, deserves every accolade and credit for her dedication to both the UK health service and humanitarian response.”

Dr Newlands, who has more recently worked as a locum in Barra, in the Outer Hebrides, said: “I couldn’t believe it when I heard I’d been nominated. It was such a shock. I can’t stop smiling from ear to ear.

“I was what you might call a ‘late bloomer’ and came to medicine much later in life but every day I’ve been a doctor has been an absolute privilege. 

“I can’t imagine doing another job.

“People thought I was a bit bonkers starting medical school in my 40s, much less travelling to all these places across the globe, but I’m pretty determined and helping other people feels like something I was born to do.”

Dr Nicos Fotiadis 

DR NICOS Fotiadis was part of the team that treated Sun columnist and bowel cancer campaigner Dame Deborah James, helping save her life on numerous occasions.

Deborah, 40, died in June, after being diagnosed with the disease in 2016.

She received life-saving treatment at The Royal Marsden Hospital in London, where Dr Fotiadis is the Head of the Interventional Radiology Department.

Lorraine Kimber, 59, who lives in Essex, has also undergone cancer treatment at the hospital. 

She said: “I met Deborah when we were both having chemo. It’s not a nice treatment and we bonded over the course of weeks. 

“We both shared a passion for beautiful things – handbags and shoes, but while chemo can leave you exhausted, interventional radiology uses tiny tools to get straight into the tumours.

“It’s the difference between surgery, a hospital stay and a three centimetre incision, to a millimetre incision and getting to go home the next day. 

“It’s such an amazing treatment.”

Lorraine, who was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer inApril 2020, has nominated Dr Fotiadis for the extra time his treatment gave both Deborah and herself.

She said: “Dr Fotiadis and his team have changed the face of my cancer journey. 

“I’ve had dental treatment more painful than the procedures Dr Fotiadis has done for me. 

“I’m never concerned or nervous or worried when I go in to see him because he’s so amazing. 

“Deborah and I both always said what an incredible doctor he is. 

“He’s not only an incredibly skilled clinician but his bedside manner is second to none, when you’re his patient you feel cared for, looked after and in the best possible hands.”

Interventional radiology uses microscopic tools and heat or cold to specifically target tumours. 

Dr Fotiadis, 48, said: “It is less invasive, more sophisticated and stops some patients having to go through the pain of big surgeries.

“Cancer is a complex disease but using interventional radiology we can get patients home the next day rather than keeping them in with surgeries and long hospital stays.”

The treatment isn’t suitable for every cancer patient but Dr Fotiadis said there are plans to increase availability across the country. 

He said: “Deborah championed the treatment so much, she had 12 interventional radiology procedures and the recovery time meant she was able to keep campaigning and making sure more people knew about bowel cancer and the type of treatment she was on.”

Dr Fotiadis said he was humbled to receive the nomination for Best Doctor but stressed the incredible work he does is a team effort.

He said: “The whole interventional radiology team is made up of dedicated, hard working and brilliant doctors, nurses and medics. 

“We’re all very optimistic about the future of interventional radiology. 

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“Having this nomination means more people will know about it and that’ll hopefully widen access to treatment.”

Shortly before her death, Deborah set up the Bowelbabe Fund and has so far raised more than £7.4m for cancer research. To donate, visit justgiving.com/campaign/BowelbabeFund

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