'Dr Ahrens saved my leg from amputation'

PATIENTS of Christoph Ahrens are coming out in support of the orthopaedic surgeon, whose contract comes to an end in December and looks unlikely to be renewed.

The Southern NSW Local Health District confirmed recently it had advertised for Dr Ahrens’ position (BDN, 19/11), a decision that has angered several of his patients.

After past patient Robin Owen wrote an open letter to the NSW Health Minister and Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (BDN, 19/11), another of Dr Ahrens’ grateful patients shared his story with the BDN.

Michael Jackson of Wonboyn Lakes said he and his family are in disbelief and disgusted with the SNSWLHD’s decision to replace Dr Ahrens.

He said it is only due to Dr Ahrens’ care and expertise that he continues to have the full use of both legs after a serious motorcycle accident.

“In September 2011 I had a very bad dirt bike accident where I received compound fractures to the tibia and fibula just below the knee,” Mr Jackson said.

“There were also compound fractures to the tibia and fibula in my ankle, all on the same leg.

“After a 15km ride to get home for medical attention, parts of the bones had gone missing.”

Mr Jackson said an ambulance was called once he arrived home and he was admitted to the Bega Hospital under the care of Dr Ahrens.

“At that point in time I underwent a massive operation to get the bones back in position, and plates and screws in both knee and ankle.

“That was one of many more operations to take place under Dr Ahrens.”

Six months later Mr Jackson contracted osteomyelitis, an infection of the bone.

It left his leg at high risk of amputation, particularly as he is an insulin-dependent diabetic.

“Dr Ahrens admitted me back to Bega Hospital to remove the plate and screws from my ankle and clean the wound and bones, so he could place an outer fixation to the shin and ankle to hold the bones in place while bone grafts and fractures knitted back together.

“Now they say he is not certified to work and fill this very important position in this community.

“Not only did I find him excellent in his work, I also found it very convenient at the time to have been operated on at Bega to this extent, to the point of saving my leg from amputation.”

Mr Jackson said being able to have his operations in Bega, rather than at Canberra or Sydney, also allowed him to remain close to his family, “which I needed for support”.

“Now my leg is all healed and I am back doing things I never thought I would be doing again – thanks all to Dr Ahrens’ knowledge, qualifications and persistence.

“For that, me and my family are grateful.

“So come on Southern Area Health Service, don’t go back on your word.

“Let us keep someone we know and trust so as he can further perform the so-important services that he and his team can provide for our remote region.”

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