Consultants from three north east NHS trusts have worked together to perform a life changing procedure, allowing Jessica Archer to eat and drink again.
Jessica, from Lobly Hill, had a condition called achalasia which prevented her from swallowing, meaning she had to be fed through a tube down her nose.
But, thanks to a POEM procedure (peroral endoscopic myotomy), performed at James Cook, the 26-year-old is now able to enjoy solid foods again.
POEM is a minimally invasive surgical procedure where consultants insert an endoscope — a narrow flexible tube with a camera in the mouth (peroral) to cut muscles in the esophagus.
Jessica can enjoy solid foods again
“It’s not just my life it has impacted, it’s the kids’ as well,” she said. “They’ve seen me so poorly, not being able to move off the sofa for ten hours, being stuck on the tube and now we’re so much more free to do a lot more things.”
Special endoscopic technique
The procedure was undertaken by South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s Viswanath YKS, Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust’s Jamie Barbour and Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust’s Anjan Dhar.
Viswanath, who also performed the first POEM at James Cook in 2019, said: “Any achalasia patient life can’t become better by chance; it gets better only by change. In Jessica’s case, it is through the special endoscopic technique that was undertaken successfully.”
Anjan Dhar said: “The development of the regional POEM service has been a collaborative initiative between three experienced endoscopists in the north east, to offer a new treatment for achalasia. This development demonstrates the success of new treatments being made available by the NHS.”
Jamie Barbour added: “It’s really exciting because endoscopic treatments are developing at a really fast rate and we’re now able to treat patients like Jessica.
“It's one of the many treatments we can use not only for a condition like Jessica's but other conditions such as polyps or early cancers."