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KNEESY PEASY; OAP told he faced two-year wait on the NHS is first Scot to fly to India for surgery.

Byline: By STUART PATTERSON

A PENSIONER flew to India for surgery rather than wait two years for treatment on the NHS.

Arthritic James Campbell became a TV celebrity in India because he was the first white European to go there for an operation.

The 69-year-old said he made the journey because he could no longer face the crippling pain in his knees.

James, from Braemar, Aberdeenshire, had to walk downstairs backwards to easethe pressure but was told he would wait at least two years for treatment.

Yesterday, he said: ``It's the best thing I've ever done. I've finally got my life back.

``I was treated like royalty in the hospital over there. The staff and facilities were absolutely second to none.

``The place was so clean you could have eaten food off the floor. I don't think you can saythat about many UK hospitals. But, despite the benefits of paying for the operation myself, I still find it disgusting.

``I've worked all my life and paid my national insurance and taxes. I've never asked for anything back.

``But the first time I did I was forced to leave this country. I think it's a damning indictment of our health service.''

James was considering goingfor a private pounds 20,000 op before a friend told him about India's high-quality healthcare.

He booked into the Krishna Heart Institute in Ahmedabad, western India, for surgery after researching it on the internet.

The former shop manager said: ``Flying over there for treatment may sound daunting to people but it's something I would highly recommend.

``Making that journey hasallowed me to make the most of my retirement, instead of spending time cooped up in the house waiting for an operation.''

He had two 45-minute ops then spent three weeks recuperating before moving into a friend's house nearby.

His story was featured in Indian newspapers and television shows. James said: ``I was told that a lot more Indians were going for treatment after seeing my story.

``Because I had travelled so far, it gave people a lot more faith in the medical system apparently.''

He is now home and fully recovered but has been told he will never ride a bike or climb a ladder again.

CAPTION(S):

TREATED LIKE A VIP: James Campbell at the hospital in India and, inset, the 69-year-old with his wife, Pam; NORTHSCOT PRESS AGENCY
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Dec 16, 2003
Words:394
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