Dr Who man from Brixton given new head by King’s College Hospital
16:36 29 February 2012
A former visual effects supervisor for Doctor Who has had fat taken from his stomach and inserted into his temple after falling 25ft (8m) from a drainpipe.
Tim Barter, 32, from Brixton, south London, had to have part of his skull removed after he locked himself out of his house and decided to climb up to an upstairs window to gain entry.
As he reached the top of the drainpipe he was too far away to reach the window sill, and just as he moved to climb back down it collapsed beneath him, causing him to plunge to the ground.
He was discovered unconscious by his neighbours a short time later and rushed to the major trauma centre at King’s College Hospital, in Southwark.
He awoke from a coma 10 days later with a brain haemorrhage, a shattered eye socket and broken leg and was told that to cope with the bleeding and swelling on his brain, a part of his skull on the right-hand side of his head had been removed.
After being discharged from hospital a number of weeks later he was told to stay indoors as much as possible and was given a hard hat, similar to that worn by builders, to protect his head whenever he went outside.
Then last December, a custom-made titanium plate was fixed in place to replace the piece of removed skull. The plate was developed at King’s using computer technology to make it mirror the other side of his head.
Titanium plates were also used to fix his shattered eye socket, and were inserted through the inside of his cheek to prevent scarring, while the fat from his stomach was injected into his temple to fill out the concavity that had appeared through the slump of inactive muscle.
Mr Barter said he had no recollection of the fall in June 2009 but believes he must have landed face-first.
He said: “My head felt really strange. I only had skin over where the skull had been removed so it was very soft to touch, particularly when the hair had started to grow back.
“The whole concept of going out with a builder’s hat on and crutches to go to the shop was deeply embarrassing - I thought I looked really awful.”
He said the surgery had changed his life.
He said: “Life stopped for a number of months. I couldn’t work and I had double vision. I was frightened that my eyesight would never go back to normal and that I would have to give up my job for good.
“Up until I had the titanium plate fitted, simple things like going to the toilet caused intense headaches. Bending down to do anything was agony.”
Since the accident, Mr Barter said he has developed a love for extreme sports.
“I’m simply making the most of everything now where I didn’t before,” he said.
“I love the falling. It’s just the split second at the end that’s an occasional problem.”
Director of trauma at King’s, Robert Bentley, said: “Tim highlights an area of expertise that I’ve developed here at King’s over the last nine years in which we have inserted over 250 such prostheses.
“In addition, patients having sustained such injuries as Tim’s highlight the fully integrated approach that we have as a major trauma centre.