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Tuesday, 22 February, 2000, 08:25 GMT
Woman carries out DIY surgery

The DIY operation damaged a brain membrane

A UK woman has carried out do-it-yourself brain surgery in an attempt to cure her chronic fatigue syndrome.

The procedure went wrong, and she required urgent medical assistance.

Heather Perry, 29, from Gloucester, went to the US to carry out the procedure, which involved drilling a two-centimetre hole in her head.

I'm the first to admit it sounds totally ridiculous, but I felt something radical needed to be done
Heather Perry
Watched by a film crew, she carried out the operation - using the ancient surgical technique of trepanning - while standing in front of a mirror.

First, she injected local anaesthetic into the crown of her head.

Then she used a surgeon's knife to cut away a section of her scalp before using the drill.

Severed membrane

The 20-minute procedure nearly went wrong when she drilled too far and severed a membrane protecting brain tissue.

She needed urgent medical help to repair the damage.

Ms Perry said: "I have no regrets.

"I know what I've done sounds totally horrific and I know most people will think it is extremely dangerous.

"I'm the first to admit it sounds totally ridiculous and I can understand the reaction I've provoked ... but I felt something radical needed to be done."

After recovering from the procedure, Ms Perry, who had been suffering from myalgic encephalomyelitis, said she has experienced a "definite improvement" in her health.

"I can't say the effects have been dramatic but they are there. I generally feel better and there's definitely more mental clarity."

Her trip followed an exchange of email with self-styled expert Peter Halvorson, of Pennsylvania. Relatives and friends called on police to stop the surgery, but it is not illegal in the US.

Doctors in Britain will not perform the procedure. It is claimed trepanning allows blood to flow more easily around the brain, increasing alertness and concentration.

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See also:
18 Nov 98 |  Health
DIY surgery on the seven seas
14 Jul 98 |  Health
Brain surgery? I'll look in the toolshed
08 Nov 99 |  Health
ME sufferers 'treated as mentally ill'

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