A man whose abdominal hernia was dubbed ‘The Alien’ after it grew to the size of a FOOTBALL has finally had it removed after 20 years.
Russell Vaughan, 49, first noticed a bulge on his stomach when he put on a fitted suit for a business meeting in the early 1990s.
Over the years his hernia grew steadily and the father-of-four was forced to hide it under baggy clothes.
Doctors advised him to go under the knife but the IT consultant was too scared of the painful operation.
But he decided to go for surgery after his nephew Joseph, four, thought he was pregnant and pointed at the bulge and asked: ”Is that my brother in there?”.
Russell is now enjoying a ”second life” and praised his daughter for giving him the courage to go through with the operation.
He said: ”The hernia became a huge problem in my life but the operation was so serious that I lost my bottle. The thought of the pain involved put me off.
”I got used to living with my bulge and my family even nicknamed it ”the alien”. But over the years it got larger and larger.
”My nephew thought I was pregnant and said ‘uncle Russell, is that my brother in there?’. That focused me on the problem and started the process to fixing it.
”After that my daughter Nicola pestered me to get the problem solved and I owe her big time for that.
”I’m much more confident now and I’m looking forward to working face-to-face with people again rather than working in the background with my bulge.
”Now I can actually wear a suit again and I’m a lot more outgoing – it’s like being given a second life.”
Russell first noticed his abdominal hernia in the early 1990s when it caused a slight bulge in a tight fitting suit he wore to a business meeting.
He ignored the bulge as it grew steadily in size, but by 2002 it was larger than a football.
Russell was so afraid of the pain involved in an operation to remove the growth that he repeatedly put off surgery and took on backroom jobs to avoid people spotting it.
He became socially shy, less confident, always wore baggy clothing to disguise it and eventually emigrated to the Costa del Sol, Spain, with wife Adrienne in 2003.
Russell only faced up to his problem after his nephew Joseph, four, whose mother was pregnant, pointed at his bump and said: ”Uncle Russell, is that my brother in there?”.
He then came under pressure from his daughter Nicola, 16, to have an operation and she persuaded him to contact Channel 4 programme Embarrassing Bodies.
In October 2010 Dr Sanjay Gupta spent two-and-a-half hours removing the growth at Pinehill Hospital, Hitchin, Herts., leaving just a tiny scar.
He said: ”This is the biggest abdominal hernia I have ever seen or heard of and it really did look like a football.
”Russell’s very lucky that he didn’t end up with any complications from the hernia because often strangulation of the bowel occurs – requiring urgent surgery.
”It’s quite amazing that he managed to live with the hernia and continue working for such a long time. It’s almost like having a baby.”
Russell praised Dr Gupta and added: ”They did a great job of fixing it. I’m now starting to get myself back together.
”I’d tried to do it on the National Health but I got bumped down the list and just chickened out.
”Initially the prodding and the messing about put me off, and then a consultant said it wasn’t life threatening.
”I wore a hernia belt and didn’t notice it getting worse and worse. I got so used to seeing it hanging there that I didn’t notice how big it was.”