Engineer credits surgeon's craftsmanship

On Saturday 29 September, Roger Moss lined up at the starting line of the VMCC Vintage Motorcycle Club Championship, at Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire. Having raced vintage bikes for over 47 years, 77-year old Roger was a confident rider, bolstered by a career as a precision mechanical engineer which had begun at just 9 years old as an assistant in his father’s factory.

As the lights turned green Roger made a charging start, only for the race to take a dramatic turn as a stalled bike blocked his path. Roger swerved to avoid a collision but failed, and his vintage Scott bike hit the stationary vehicle.

Unconscious and in a serious condition, Roger was taken by ambulance to the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust and had a CT scan, where the extent of his injuries was revealed.  X-rays showed thirteen broken ribs, with some broken in more than one place, creating flail segments. One of his lungs had collapsed under the force of the impact.

Due to the extent of his injuries, the decision was made to transfer Roger to the East Midlands Major Trauma Centre, based at Queen’s Medical Centre.

The East Midlands Major Trauma Centre is part of a national network of specialist centres which concentrate expertise and resources to give the best possible care, including intensive care and brain surgery. Ambulance crews nationwide are trained to bring the most seriously injured patients to their closest hub rather than to their local Emergency Department, giving the patient the best possible collaborative care.

Roger’s care team was headed up by Professor Chris Moran, the National Clinical Director of Trauma for NHS England and Professor of Orthopaedic Trauma Surgery at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUH).

During a twelve hour operation, Professor Moran and his team shaped titanium rods to match Roger’s ribs, before each broken bone was screwed into the new metal structure. Roger said: “They went in from both sides [of my chest]. They had to get each broken rib and bend a piece of titanium until it was the shape it should be, and screw the rib – what was left of it – to these pieces.” 

“I’m infinitely grateful for what Professor Moran and his team have done for me, because God knows I’d done enough damage! I needed help and I consider that I was fantastically lucky to have somebody with the resolve and the expertise of Professor Moran and his team. ”

Following a week in critical care and a week in intensive care at QMC, Roger was transferred to the Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, closer to his home.

Once his rehabilitation had started Roger was finally able to go home, cared for by his wife Marina. Roger credits his wife for providing the encouragement he needed to make a recovery. Roger said: “My wife tells me, Roger you can’t die; there are too many people that need you.”

Now, nearly four months after his accident, Roger is back building bespoke engines for the business that he runs from his home in Leicestershire. In February, Roger turns 78 but shows no signs of retiring from his lifelong career as a mechanical engineer. Now specialising in vintage motorbike engines, Roger’s diverse career has seen him invent a machine for the UK government to make the Harrier aircraft more powerful, enabling the UK to sell the aircraft to the American market.

As a mechanical engineer, and having seen the X-rays, Roger credits the expertise that goes into treating the most serious injuries. Roger said: “The way [my injury] is healing up, it really is craftsmanship. The doctors and surgeons who attended to my injuries were clearly at the top of their profession, and I would like to express my profound appreciation.”

Professor Chris Moran said: “We’d like to thank Roger for his kind words about the care he received. The Major Trauma Centre sees the most critically injured patients, and we do our utmost to ensure the best outcomes for everyone we treat. Over the past five years we have developed new techniques to fix severe rib fractures and many patients are now benefitting from this new operation. We wish Roger the best of luck in his continued recovery.”