A DELIVERY man who had a bone ripped from his arm in a brutal dog attack has taken the "gut-wrenching" decision to have it amputated.

Chris Hirst is now waiting for a prosthetic replacement after 19 months of treatment, weeks in hospital, more than 40 hours on the surgeon's table and nine operations failed to save the damaged limb.

Mr Hirst was shaken like a rag-doll during the horrific onslaught in April 2013, but was hopeful his right arm could be saved.

However, despite tens of thousands of pounds of surgery, aftercare and medication, an infection caused by the attack left surgeons with no option but to reluctantly recommend amputation.

He underwent initial15-hour surgery, followed by eight operations lasting around three hours. Each time he hoped for a marked improvement, but his last four-hour stint was to remove the arm above the elbow.

"It's devastating," Mr Hirst said.

"It's hard to come to terms with, but I know that I don't have to have any more operations on it.

"I didn't realise what the outcome was going to be. I was hoping to get some movement back in my right arm, but I took advice from the surgeons that it would be better for me.

"It's a very tough decision to take to have your arm amputated. It was gut-wrenching."

The 64-year-old of Tyersal Garth, Tyersal, Bradford, is now suffering with chronic phantom pains following the amputation last month.

"I was warned about it. They said you might experience them. It's like electric shocks. Sometimes it's more painful than others.

"It's like putting your hand in an electric or plug socket. It's tingling all the time. It's very strange - it's mainly where my hand was," he said.


Surgery at Leeds General Infirmary has including skin grafting, attempts to reconstruct the missing radius and the insertion of plates, pins and a cement bridge. Bone marrow was also taken from the femur to try and repair the damage, but it failed to heal properly.

Osteomyelitis, a bone infection, meant his arm started to reject its own marrow and there was a chance the infection could spread.

"I was devastated when they said that the best route now would have to be an amputation because they couldn't go any further with it. I was absolutely gutted.

"I had nine operations prior to the amputation and on each occasion you're hoping that it's going to get better.

"The two surgeons, Daniel Thornton and Professor Peter Giannoudis, that I've been under have been absolutely brilliant. This was the last resort to them. After putting19 months of hard work into me, having to tell me that I'm going to have to lose it upset them as much as me.

"They're more like friends to me now than doctors."

Mr Hirst was attacked by the loose dog, which had been left alone in a garden in Bierley, when he was delivering medication to a house.

The American bulldog mauled both arms and Mr Hirst believes he only survived the ten-minute trauma thanks to the actions of passer-by Danny Gomersall.

"I owe a hell of a lot to him," said Mr Hirst.

Mr Gomersall dragged Mr Hirst from the garden and repeatedly hit the out-of-control dog with a shovel.

"The dog actually removed one of the bones from my arm," said Mr Hirst, who has not been able to work or drive since.


"I remember most of it. All I was doing was just my delivery job when this happened. I was doing my work. It wasn't as though I was trespassing.

"I remember the dog leaping on to me then it was throwing me about like I was a little rag doll. If it had been an elderly person or a little kid I'd have had no chance.

"I'm lucky that it didn't get my throat."

The pain was so severe and the injuries so horrific, Mr Hirst thought his arm had been ripped off.

"It's gut-wrenching because I left my house at 1.30pm and at 2.40pm, I was on my way to BRI. It's something you don't envisage can happen to you," he said.

Mr Hirst writes with his left hand, but used his right for everything else.

"I'm still learning how to do things. Every day there is a different test," he said.

"It's devastated my life really. It's had a big impact on all of my family, my son, my daughter. If it wasn't for my wife I don't know where I'd be."

Despite all the suffering, Mr Hirst has tried to remain positive.

"It's no good being negative. I've got to stand tall and carry on," he said.

* WHEN Chris Hirst was ruthlessly attacked by a loose dog in April 2013 police were powerless to act as it happened on private property.

Officers did investigate, but were restricted by the law.

Mr Hirst's only option was to pursue civil action and he believes the dog is still alive.

In May of this year, the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 was toughened up, something the Telegraph & Argus had campaigned for through its Curb the Danger Dogs campaign.

Now pet owners whose animals attack on private property can be prosecuted, jailed for six months and fined £5,000.

But Mr Hirst said: "I'm not sure how much difference it will make really."

From April 2016, compulsory microchipping of all dogs will also be introduced.