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You gotta hand it to him…

…Mark Goddard of Newton Abbot in Devon is not a man afraid to take his medical destiny into his own hands hand.

Man builds home-made guillotine and chops off hand after doctors refuse to amputate

Mark Goddard has been in constant pain since he was involved in a motorbike crash 16 years ago.

But after an unsuccessful two-year campaign to have his nerve shattered hand surgically removed, he decided to do it himself.

He rigged up a home-made guillotine using an axe with a weight strapped to it, to ensure it would have enough power to amputate his hand.

The first blow sliced though the bone but didn’t sever all the tendons, leaving his hand hanging off a bloodied stump.

He then used a surgeon’s scalpel to cut through the remaining tissues before dropping the remains into a bin, which he later filled with charcoal and set alight – in order to prevent his hand being re-attached.

That was the Express. The Mirror adds some more details:

Dad refused NHS operation builds GUILLOTINE to amputate his own hand – but it still hurts

Mark spent two weeks designing the guillotine and ensured his wife and son were out before he severed his hand.

He tied two tourniquets above his forearm to reduce blood flow and had a first aid kit nearby.

Mark wants a device called a spinal stimulator implanted into his back to ease the nerve pain.

He said he was “reasonably hopeful” his wish would be granted after receiving a more sympathetic hearing from doctors and psychiatrists in the wake of his dramatic protest two weeks ago.

A Devon and Cornwall police spokesman said: “Police received a call from the ambulance service to say a man had cut his hand off.

“We were concerned he might have a knife and be a risk to himself or others.

“Units attended and upon arrival a 44-year-old man had indeed cut his hand off. He was otherwise rational.

While it is not the place of the police to criticise the behaviour of citizens who have remained within the law, it would be a harsh judge who held it against the police spokesman quoted that the placement of his penultimate word did imbue his observations with a slightly ironical tone.

I totally support Mr Goddard’s right to do as he pleases with his own body, sympathise with the suffering that led him to take such a desperate measure, applaud the practical and rational way he went about it, and very much hope that the NHS will be persuaded to take his pain seriously in future, but I am not sure I would recommend his method. Hands up who thinks it was a good idea? (Er, not you, Mark.)

18 comments to You gotta hand it to him…

  • bloke in spain

    Don’t try this with headaches.

  • revver

    I guess you could say he “took matters into his own hands”?

  • revver

    The nhs wouldn’t lift a finger to help him.

  • revver

    Fortunately, state ineptitude didn’t cost him an arm and a leg.

  • revver

    Cheaper than a plane ticket to Saudi Arabia?

  • revver

    Does this mean someone else will need to roll his cigarettes?

  • He should have bought a plane ticket to a country with non-government health “care”.

    I think he could have paid a surgeon in Bangkok to at least sever the nerves in question.


  • Nick BTF! Gray

    You could bleed to death if you cut of your own hand, so this could be construed as a suicide attempt, which I think is against the law, so let’s hope the police throw the book at him.
    After all, they caught him red-handed!

  • Vinegar Joe

    I really liked the NHS tribute during the London Olympics……..maybe next time they can have a sexually and racially diverse group of about 500 people chop off their arms with guillotines. Top that Putin!

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Nick BTF! Gray,

    No, suicide has been legal in England & Wales since 1961. Performing surgery without a licence is illegal, on the other hand.

    To blunt all this cutting wit, it is certainly true that he was lucky not to die the way that soldiers used to die after battlefield amputations in the era before anaesthetics. I truly do venerate him as a total badass (“He then used a surgeon’s scalpel to cut through the remaining tissues”), but take another look at that guillotine. It’s powered by bungee cords.

  • On an even more serious note, I do wonder if there was no less radical way to deal with his pain. (Full disclosure: I’m asking out of simple curiosity, but I’m also looking for a way to blame the NHS…)

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Well, Mr Goddard himself certainly does blame the NHS. He was in severe pain for years, which the NHS wouldn’t or couldn’t sort out. His doctors refused to amputate because his hand itself was healthy.

    It does seem that the NHS overrode his wishes as to the price he was willing to pay to be free of pain, no doubt because he was not the customer. That said, I don’t want to leap into blaming his doctors or the NHS system all the way. However much you and I may disapprove of command-medicine that is the system in which they must operate. Since patients are often ignorant, and costs must be controlled, any such system will have to override patients’ wishes fairly often – in fact I’m pretty sure that many private doctors would also refuse to carry out such an amputation. For understandable reasons: it does seem as if poor Mr Goddard was wrong in thinking that getting rid of his hand would get rid of the pain.

    But I bet they’ll take his wishes more seriously now.

  • Dom

    “His doctors refused to amputate because his hand itself was healthy.”

    Would amputation have eased the pain? There is a phantom limb phenomenon, feeling pain in a limb that has been amputated, although this might be temporary. Still, there should have been some way to help this poor man.

  • Ebenezer Flamsteed

    He’s been one-upped by the gent who allowed a hyena to eat his, uh, junk.


  • Runcie Balspune

    He should have just gone to Syria and stole something.

  • Vinegar Joe

    @Ebenezer Flamsteed Sounds like my ex-wife.

  • I agree, Natalie. Still, I do wonder from a purely medical POV on the one hand*, and from the medical ethics POV on the other.

    *(puns unintended, but seem unavoidable)

  • Obvious case of mental illness, made worse by socialized medicine and a gimme-gimme attitude. Bungee powered axe? That’s not a method, its a statement.

    Also crappy at DIY fabrication. Hello, miter saw? Clean cut no haggling off bits.

    Bad idea too, because: “Chopping off of his hand has not relieved Mr Goddard’s pain and he currently takes more than 40 tablets a day.” Sad face! 🙁

    Idiopathic nerve pain isn’t really very treatable sometimes. Just the way it is. Stupid stubborn a-holes going to great lengths to prove the doctors wrong and get sympathy from the papers don’t change it. Pity train just hit the Reality wall.