Doctors praise DIY surgery skills of diabetic ex-soldier, 57, who chopped off his own toes with PLIERS after his operation was cancelled

  • WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
  • Paul Dibbins carried out the self surgery when his developed gangrene
  • He feared he would lose his whole foot so chopped off two toes with pliers
  • Surgeons say he did a ‘beautiful job’ and the wounds have healed well 
  • 57-year-old was due to have leg amputated but had operation cancelled

A diabetic former soldier used pliers to cut off his own toes after his operation was cancelled at the last minute.

Paul Dibbins, 57, had been due to have his leg removed below the knee after suffering frost bite on his feet while repairing a car in wintry conditions.

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But, when the surgery was called off by the NHS, the fed up father-of-three decided to treat the condition himself.

Mr Dibbins initially spent months trying to heal his toes, but was told six months later that he had developed gangrene and they would have to be removed.

But, when he had to wait six weeks for an operation, Mr Dubbins decided to cut off the toes himself.

The former army Lance Corporal – who did not take any painkillers – used his first aid knowledge to scrape off the dead flesh around the two toes on his right foot.

Sitting in his living room, he then cut through the tendon – which took around an hour – and removed the toes. 

He claims he even won praise for his handy work by a surgeon – who said he was ‘mad’ but lauded his work as ‘textbook’.

Mr Dibbins, from Buckfastleigh, Devon. said: ‘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.’

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Paul Dibbins carried out self surgery when his whole foot became infected with gangrene and he feared he might lose the entire limb

Mr Dibbins suffered frostbite after spending three hours fixing a blown head gasket on his son’s car during ‘cutting winds’ in the driveway of his hilltop home in March 2015.

His feet turned ‘soot black’ and he was rushed into Torbay Hospital where doctors told him they would need to amputate his right leg from the knee down.

But after being wheeled to theatre doctors, pulled the plug at the last minute.

Mr Dibbins then discharged himself from hospital, believing doctors would call him in a few days to rearrange an appointment.

But he claims he never received the phone call – and was forced to take action.

Mr Dibbins then spent nine months treating his own wounds twice a day, using a Swiss army knife, sterile scissors and homemade dressing.

Incredibly, surgeons have now praised his work, lauding the 57-year-old for carrying out a 'beautiful job' and said the wounds have healedMr Dibbins, from Buckfastleigh, Devon, first developed a problem with his foot when he helped his son fix a broken down car during cold conditions in February

Incredibly, surgeons have now praised his work, lauding the 57-year-old for carrying out a ‘beautiful job’ and said the wounds have healed 

The toes (one of which is pictured above) turned 'soot black' and Mr Dibbins feared he would end up losing his entire foot  
The toes (one of which is pictured above) turned ‘soot black’ and Mr Dibbins feared he would end up losing his entire foot  

He said: ‘Taking care of myself I could see myself getting better. I could see the more work I did, the better it healed.

‘I took six painkillers in the first week and then none for nine months. I didn’t want to die and didn’t want my leg cut off.’

Mr Dibbins claims he saw doctors every six weeks after and was told he could carry on treating his frostbite until ‘things turned nasty’.

Then, in November 2015, his right foot became infected with gas gangrene – but he claims he was forced to wait weeks for an appointment. 

So the determined former army Lance Corporal used scissors to crunch through the gristle. 

The former army Lance Corporal spent nine months treating his own wounds with dressing twice a day, a treatment which cured the frostbiteBut he soon developed gangrene and faced the stark reality of losing his foot

The former army Lance Corporal spent nine months treating his own wounds with dressing twice a day, a treatment which cured the frostbite. But he soon developed gangrene and faced the stark reality of losing his foot

The brave former serviceman used a set of pliers (pictured) to remove his toes
The brave former serviceman used a set of pliers (pictured) to remove his toes

‘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 spokesman for Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘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.’  

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