A surgeon has returned to work, almost two years after he was left paralysed, when a tree fell on him while out cycling.
After spending five months in hospital, and after more than 1,000 hours of rehab, Mohammed Belal, known as Mo, has reached a key milestone in his recovery, and has returned to the job he loves at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.
Back in February 2021, Mo was cycling in the countryside with a friend, a hobby he had taken up during the pandemic, when, in a bizarre twist of fate, a tree fell on him, leaving him paralysed.
He remembers realising he couldn’t move, and the accident had broken his back. He was taken to the nearest hospital for emergency surgery, before being transferred to the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital for spinal surgery. Rods were inserted into his spine to keep it stable.
Prior to his accident, Mo helped people who have suffered spinal injuries, much like his own, and his work included reconstructing bladders for cancer patients.
Mo had been worked on the COVID-19 wards and in ITU during the pandemic, and cycling had become a way for him to unwind. Now phasing back into work, Mo was looking forward to getting back to helping his patients and was back operating from his wheelchair by mid-November.
He said: “The greatest moment of my rehab’ has been coming back to work. It was really humbling to get letters from my patients; they helped me realise that I needed to come back to doing the job I love.
“It is easy to forget the difference we make to our patients, but, being on the receiving side, has renewed my love for what we do. A positive mental attitude has been my secret weapon, along with the love and support of family, friends and colleagues,” he added.
Mo now uses a wheelchair, which supports him to stand and lean forward, meaning he is able to continue doing the job he loves so much. He also continues to do two to three hours of rehab’ a day.
Mo said: “This journey will make me a better clinician. It has given me a renewed appreciation for the difference the NHS makes. I am beyond grateful to the NHS, in particular UHB, who have pulled out all the stops to enable me to carry on doing the job I love.”