Elaine Rennie could think of no better way to celebrate her 60th birthday, than by shaking the hand of the man who saved her life.
As a young mum, the South Yorkshire woman had been diagnosed with a life-threatening disorder called Agromegaly – the result of a brain tumour in her pituitary gland.
With two young children to think about, Elaine chose to put her life in the hands of Professor Robert Battersby, a neurosurgeon at Sheffield’s Royal Hallamshire hospital.
“It was a scary time and I had my family to think about,” said Elaine, who lives in Barnsley.
“I was told surgery was my best option, so I agreed and focused on trying to be strong for my children. 22 years ago, this was a fairly new procedure but everything went smoothly and now here I am celebrating my 60th birthday. If it wasn’t for Professor Battersby, I wouldn’t have seen my 40th birthday, I’m certain of that, so I owe him everything.”
It was this revelation that led Elaine to ask family and friends to mark her milestone birthday by making a donation to Hallamshire’s neurocare department. Around this same time, Elaine’s children decided to contact Neurocare in an effort to track Professor Battersby down.
“They were just kids at the time all this was going on,” recalled Elaine.
“Stephen was 12 and Claire was eight, but they’re all grown up now and both wanted to meet the man who gave them their mum back and shake his hand, it became quite important to them.” And Elaine admits that, when the reunion finally happened earlier this month, it was an emotional meeting.
“I honestly just couldn’t thank him enough,” said Elaine.
“It was so wonderful to meet him again and my children both got to thank him in person for the work he does, which meant the world to them. It was very special. You don’t often get chance in life to thank the people who do these incredible things for you. He was such a nice man and I really appreciated him taking the time out to come and meet with us.”
Stephen, now 35, added: “As a family, my mum’s 60th birthday was a real milestone and we all knew that without Professor Battersby’s expertise, it was unlikely we would have been able to celebrate with her. It was great to be able to shake his hand.”
Professor Battersby said of the meeting: “I was delighted to meet up with Elaine after all these years and so pleased that she has made such a generous gesture to help Neurocare.
“It was very poignant to meet her now grown up children who were understandably very distressed at the time their mum was having such a major operation. Even though it was such a long time ago, and I must admit I didn’t recognise Elaine now, I did remember how she looked at the time when she showed me a photo of herself and her family taken just before her operation.
“Without help from Neurocare and all the great staff on the Neuroscience wards at the Royal Hallamshire hospital, such wonderful stories like Elaine’s couldn’t happen.”