Ian Sargeant, 61, recalls some advice he received twenty years ago which brought him from North Yorkshire to the Birmingham Prostate Clinic for enlarged prostate treatment.

“I would have been around my late thirties and having lunch with some guys, when I was given some advice which has always stayed with me. An older work colleague in our group had just had a procedure called a TURP and he said to us: if you are ever in my position, make sure you check your options and make the best choice for yourself. I know men are not always very good at talking about their health, but this was one occasion when we did, and it turned out for the best.

I didn’t have the classic symptoms of an enlarged prostate. From the age of 55, I had regular check-ups with my GP and when my most recent blood tests came back, I was told I had poor kidney function. My prostate was enlarged, and this was causing obstructed urine to back up into part of my kidneys. I was more thirsty than normal and had a bit of a bad taste in my mouth, which must have been the early signs.

When I saw my local consultant about it, there was no discussion. I was told I needed to have a TURP otherwise my kidneys would be further damaged. There was no opportunity to discuss side-effects or possible complications; it was a case of ‘take it or leave it.’ By March (2020), I went into retention and had a catheter fitted. Due to Covid-19, I was told my operation was not likely to take place until September or October and I would need to self-catheterise for months. I was struggling to get used to going for dog walks with a urine bag strapped to my leg and I was very worried about the prospect of getting an infection.

I started looking for alternatives and through this online research, I booked a telephone consultation with Mr Doherty. For the first time, I found myself speaking to a doctor who understood my concerns on a humane level and was willing not only to answer my questions, but to expand on them also. I knew that a GreenLight laser procedure was likely to lead to retrograde ejaculation, but sexual function was very likely to be unaffected. Mr Doherty showed empathy and sensitivity about male health issues, as well as exuding confidence in his surgical skills.

Because I was in retention and would have faced a high risk of infection from self-catheterising for many months, my case was categorised as urgent. I had my GreenLight laser procedure at the start of April. My recovery was very quick and straightforward: I was walking around the hospital car park the day after surgery to help get the urge to pass urine. As soon as I did, it was unlike the flow I’ve ever had; like switching a tap on and off again. I’d quickly pass 500-600mls within eight to 12 seconds and then I’d stop, immediately.

I would say there was very mild discomfort when I passed urine for the first ten days. There was a tiny amount of blood in the urine, which changed the colour to pink and after that, the blood would come and go. I was out riding my bike within three days of surgery and to be honest, I felt back to normal activities and functions immediately after surgery.

Although coming to the Birmingham Prostate Clinic speeded up treatment considerably, if I had been offered a TURP locally on the same day as GreenLight laser with Mr Doherty, I would still have chosen Mr Doherty. I wasn’t prepared to allow a surgeon to operate on my body who had so little interest in the damage that could be caused. Surgeons need to have empathy and compassion as well as their skills and qualifications.

I was a self-pay patient. I would say certainly, when you first hear the cost, it takes you aback a little. Personally, I have very rarely been in hospital during my life, so I didn’t appreciate all the procedure and resource that goes into a procedure like this. There was a huge amount of tests and assessments in the pre-op stage, the theatre time and the skills of people like the anesthetist, as well as the surgery and technology used. Having been through it all, with the best outcome I could have hoped for, I have no doubt I made the right choice, being fortunate to be able to fund it myself. I’m very grateful for that original advice from about 20 years ago which was the driving force behind my decision and shows why it is so important for men to talk more about their health.”