Former Army Soldier Chops Off Own Toes After Hospital Cancels Amputation Appointment At Last Minute

Paul Dibbins, a 57-year-old man from Buckfastleigh, Devon in England with military training, chopped off his own toes with a pair of pliers after a local hospital canceled his amputation appointment at the last minute, according to the Mirror.

On March 16, 2015, Dibbins suffered severe frostbite after spending three hours outside in the freezing temperatures “fixing a blown head gasket to his son’s car.”

Later that day, his foot turned black, and he was rushed to Torbay Hospital, where doctors told him that they would have to amputate his leg from the knee down “because of complications with his diabetes.”

However, just moments after doctors wheeled him into a room, the operation was canceled due to “another patient’s surgery who had been seen before him.”

The father of three later left the hospital with the hope that the hospital would call him at a later date to reschedule the amputation appointment, but he says he never received a phone call.

“They would have cut my leg off. When I went in, my doctor and two surgeons all said prepare yourself for the worst we are taking your leg,” said Dibbins. “I had a breakdown, bearing in mind I’d had frostbite, I had been taken to hospital in an ambulance.”

“I’d been told my leg would be cut off and I was taken into surgery but it was cancelled. I just wanted to go home and see my wife and kids.”

Instead of returning to the hospital, Dibbins began treating himself over a nine-month period, using a “Swiss army knife, sterile scissors, and homemade dressing, which he did twice a day.”

“Knowing that it would take at least another six weeks to get me in front of a surgeon again that’s when I bit the bullet and cut off the toes,” said Dibbins.

Dibbins went on to say that he had taken six painkillers during the first week of treatment and went without medication for the remainder of the nine months.

“Taking care of myself I could see myself getting better. I could see the more work I did the better it healed,” he said.

The former soldier’s twice-a-day treatment cured his frostbite, but according to the Daily Mail, in November of 2015, Dibbins toes became infected with gangrene, and out of fear of losing his limbs, he chopped off his toes using pliers.

The DIY surgery occurred in Dibbins living room, and it took about an hour to complete.

He explained, “I did it because it’s what had to be done, my doctor told me my toes were going to kill me.”

“I’ve had one surgeon say to me it was more luck than judgment but then I had another surgeon saying I was mad but it was textbook.”

His 57-year-old wife of 40 years, Elaine, stated that “there have been ups and downs and it’s been quite a journey. I could not be in the room while he did it but I knew that he had to do it to save his foot, his leg and life at the end of the day.”

“I could see where he was coming from although it was traumatic and emotional. We have been together since we were 16 years ago and he has always been a survivor.”

A spokesperson for the South Devon NHS Foundation Trust released the following statement.

“”We are unable to comment on information about individuals. However, the safety of all our patients is our top priority and occasionally it does become necessary for operations to be postponed, if there is another patient with a more critical medical need.”

“Whenever there is a need to postpone an operation the consultant who is managing the patient’s care is involved in the decision-making,” the statement read.

[Featured Image by Katazryna Bialasiewicz/iStock]