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Sunday 31 August 2014

'They removed my stomach by mistake'

Eilish O'Regan

Published 03/12/2012 | 05:00

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ALAN O'Gorman has had to endure living without a stomach for over a decade after doctors mistook him for another patient.

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The 31-year-old Dubliner was plunged into a nightmare when he was incorrectly told he had stomach cancer after his results were mixed up with the results for an elderly man.

The doctors in St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin took the dramatic step of removing his stomach to save his life – only to discover to their horror that they had performed an operation based on an incorrect diagnosis.

"Food is now digested in the lower intestine as a result of not having a stomach. It has had a major impact on my life in general," he told the Irish Independent.

Alan was a student when his routine biopsy results were confused with those of a 70-year-old man.

He remembers telling the doctors to make sure "that there is something there" before they "take everything out".

But after the doctors operated, they could find no trace of the disease and the blunder only came to light after his stomach was removed.

"My weight plummeted soon after the operation as I found it extremely difficult to eat.

"I had to give up my studies because I had little energy levels and needed more time to recuperate.

"At one point, I found it unbearable to live without being able to enjoy food, which sadly nearly ended with an attempt at taking my own life. It got to breaking point and I could not take any more."

Ordeal

At that point, Mr O'Gorman took an overdose and went to the A&E department of the hospital so that "they could see what they had done to me".

He could not stand being in the company of other people who were eating.

Alan was later awarded compensation in the High Court after having to take to the witness box to recount his ordeal.

He has since qualified as a software engineer and is involved in different areas including developing websites.

"My body has adjusted over the years and I have learned to enjoy what I eat.

"It's not always a comfortable experience; however, I am used to the way my digestive system operates now," he said, explaining that he takes only small amounts of food at a time.

"I have moved on with my life and made the decision to put it all behind me. Life is simply too short to be bitter or hold grudges.

"No one set out purposely to harm me. Yes, serious mistakes were made, but I hope we've all learned from them.

"I've just graduated from college and . . . Life is great for me once again."

Irish Independent

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