MORE than 20 medics battled for 12 hours to save a man’s life in the first operation of its kind in Essex.

Robert Puffett, 68, was told he had just weeks to live when doctors found a tumour in his heart and kidney, plus numerous blood clots in his body.

Mr Puffett, from Wickford, is now recovering after coming through a painstaking and intricate operation at the Essex Cardiothoracic Centre, at Basildon Hospital.

The grandad-of-four, who was devastated when told he would need the operation following a hospital check-up last month, said: “It was funny because I wasn’t even ill.

“When I was sat down and told I was full of cancer and I had blood clots from my neck down to my groin, I was shocked. It felt as if there was no hope.

“But Mr Anil Vohra, the consultant urologist, said he had spoken with a colleague and there was a chance, although the operation was rare and high risk.”

During the lengthy surgery, Mr Vohra led a team of urologists, alongside Mr Inderpaul Birdi, the consultant cardiac surgeon, who guided the cardiothoracic team.

Together they removed Mr Puffett’s right kidney, the tumour from the right atrium of his heart and the blood clots, by using heart bypass and techniques to cool him down and prevent damage to other organs.

Mr Vohra said: “I removed his kidney tumour and Mr Birdi took out the tumour from his heart.

“We had the support of more than 20 members of the theatre team from various specialties, including the anaesthetist and the perfusionist, who were taking care of bypass and cooling of the heart and body.

“Mr Puffett is making a steady recovery and we are very proud to say we have scaled new heights with this procedure.”

Mr Puffett’s wife Yvonne, 66, said: “We couldn’t wish for better treatment. If this centre hadn’t been here and Robert hadn’t been referred immediately, it would have been a very different story.”

l The Echo can reveal 13 health centres will be created in a £66million plan to improve healthcare across Basildon, Thurrock and Brentwood.