JoJo Louise Hicks, 37, mum to nine-year-old son Alfie,and step-mum-to-be to Ethan, 10, started with acute and recurring pain in the right upper side of her abdomen at the beginning of last year.
JoJo, a conveyancing assistant from Leeds, visited her GP and it was first thought to be a possible problem with her liver. Over the following months, the pain worsened until she suffered from daily attacks along with nausea, vomiting and headaches.
“The pain became horrendous for the six months before surgery, I couldn’t eat without the worry it would bring on an attack and my sleep was disrupted.
“I went back and forth for blood tests as they tried to find out the cause. It was very stressful, particularly with having a young son as we did not know what the future held.”
An ultrasound scan revealed biliary colic caused by gallstones. JoJo was referred to Spire Leeds Hospital under the NHS where she underwent minimally invasive cholecystectomy surgery (gallbladder removal) two weeks before Christmas under the care of Professor Giles Toogood, consultant hepatobiliary surgeon.
He removed her gallbladder and five large gallstones. JoJo was able to go home the same day.
“It was the best Christmas ever,” says JoJo who returned to work three weeks later and says she is now pain free.
Professor Toogood, who was the first surgeon in the UK to trial a new development for making smaller incisions to speed up recovery time, said gallbladder surgery is common with around 77,000 operations done per year in England. More than one in 20 adults has gallstones but many are unaware of their presence.
“Miss Hicks was suffering from severe attacks of right sided abdominal pain caused by several large gallstones in the gallbladder.
“Without an operation to remove her gallbladder her symptoms would have continued. For most people this procedure does change their life because they are then able to eat what they like without fear or pain.”
The body adapts very quickly after gallbladder removal and is able to function without it.
“He helped to reassure me and explained everything in a way I could understand,” adds Jo Jo.
“Alfie is ecstatic to have his mum back and Michael and I are looking forward to the build up to our wedding. I know wedding planning can be stressful but I’m going to enjoy every single minute of it.
“I’m so grateful to Professor Toogood and all the staff at Spire Leeds Hospital who looked after me. Now I can get on with my life and look forward to the future together with my family.”