Thanks to a generous donation from the Wilby family and Caravan Guard we’ve provided over £100,000 to fund an innovative CO2 (carbon dioxide) laser for the Head and Neck service at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

The Head and Neck specialist team currently have around 145 patients with complex conditions who are waiting for life-changing surgery.

The new carbon dioxide laser enables surgeons to precisely remove thin layers of skin with minimal damage to the surrounding areas. On average the team will use the new laser to treat around ten oropharyngeal and laryngeal cancer patients per month.

Melissa Hepworth, Head and Neck Service Manager told us:

“Our existing laser was out of date and could be unreliable. This meant that sometimes planned surgeries could not go ahead, which is disappointing for both patients and staff.

“This brand-new laser allows us to perform head and neck surgery in new ways, and has given us the opportunity to become a world leading hospital in robotic surgery thanks to the added functionality this CO2 laser has.

“We hope that this will unlock opportunities for other Ear Nose and Throat sub-specialities to use laser technology for their procedures and help achieve better outcomes for more patients.”

51-year-old Victoria, from Holmfirth, first noticed problems with her breathing 10 years ago, when she started to feel breathless walking uphill. Her condition deteriorated over the years, and she was eventually referred to the ENT (Ear Nose and Throat) team at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

A camera in Victoria’s nasal passage revealed that she has a condition called Tracheal Stenosis. This condition had caused Victoria’s airways to narrow and scar tissue had grown over, meaning that she was unable to breathe normally.

Victoria was first told she would need a tracheostomy, an invasive operation creating an opening at front of the neck so a tube can be inserted into the windpipe to help her breathe.

Thankfully, Victoria has since been able to have several minimally invasive operations with a Co2 laser, and recently was one of the first patients to benefit from this brand-new charity funded laser.

Victoria told us about the difference this has made to her life:

“Unfortunately, the scar tissue blocking my airway grows back around every 3 months, so I need to have surgery regularly to breathe properly. I noticed a huge difference after my last procedure using the new laser, previously it’s taken me around 3 days to breathe normally again, but I woke up and could instantly breathe properly, it was exhilarating.

“This laser has given me a lifeline. Now, I feel like myself again, I can get a good nights’ sleep without panicking that I can’t breathe, and I can go out and enjoy life with family and friends without feeling like a burden. Most people take these things for granted, but I am so incredibly grateful to have a ‘normal’ life again.

“I’m forever indebted to the hospital team, who have been an absolute god send. By donating to Leeds Hospitals Charity, you’re giving someone like me their life back, something that is absolutely priceless.”