Former BBC war correspondent Martin Bell has revealed how surgeons rebuilt his skull after he ‘face planted’ over his suitcases at London Gatwick Airport.
The 80-year-old former independent MP, known for the pale suits he wore while reporting from battlefields, fell onto the concrete floor two months ago.
Mr Bell said he looked like ‘Dracula’s grandfather’ after fracturing both eye sockets, his right upper jaw bone, nose and part of the base of his skull.
Mr Bell said he looked like ‘Dracula’s grandfather’ after fracturing both eye sockets, his right maxilla bone, nose and part of the base of his skull
Martin Bell, former BBC war reporter, and Helen Witherow, the surgeon who rebuilt his face after he fell over his suitcases, pictured at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, South London
He underwent two-and-a-half hours of reconstructive surgery at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, South London, and said he now looks ‘like I’ve had Botox’.
His fall happened on November 5 at the airport’s train ticket office as he was returning from a cruise to promote his new book, War And The Death Of News.
Mr Bell, who lives in Hampstead, North London, told the : ‘I have come through 18 wars almost unscathed and I trip up at a railway station.
‘I have no one else to blame for this. I feel a complete idiot. I was not a pretty sight. I looked like Dracula’s grandfather.’
He needed four surgical plates and 16 screws and underwent two-and-a-half hours of surgery
Mr Bell was initially taken to East Surrey Hospital in Redhill before being transferred to St George’s for surgery at its specialist maxillofacial centre.
Helen Witherow, consultant oral and maxillofacial surgeon, said he had suffered a ‘phenomenal amount’ of damage and needed four surgical plates and 16 screws.
She added: ‘I have never seen anyone sustain these type of fractures. This is a high impact car injury-type fracture.’
Mr Bell, who left the BBC in 1997 to become an independent MP, was hit by a mortar in Sarajevo in 1992, and the shrapnel is still lodged in his body.
Mr Bell was hit by a mortar in Sarajevo in 1992, and the shrapnel is still lodged in his body
Mr Bell, pictured in 1992, claims to be the first embedded correspondent with an Army unit
He claims to be the first ’embed’ – an embedded correspondent with an Army unit, which was a system adopted by the British Army during the first Gulf War.
Known as ‘the man in the white suit’, Cambridge graduate Mr Bell – who was MP for Tatton in Cheshire from 1997 to 2001 – is now a British ambassador for Unicef.
Mr Bell has two daughters – Catherine, who works in administration at the University of Exeter, and Melissa, who lives in France and works for TV channel France 24.
His father Adrian Bell, who died in 1980, wrote the first Times crossword puzzle in 1930 – and went on to compile more than 3,000 before he died.
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