AFTER having her life saved by a Basingstoke doctor 26 years, a nurse has now travelled from Australia to support her saviour in his time of need.

Catherine Conteh was just 18 in 1993 when doctors in Sierra Leone told her that after five days of obstructive labour, she was going to die as her family could not afford to pay for a Caesarean section.

However, a former consultant anaesthetist at Basingstoke hospital, Dr Keith Thomson, paid for the life-saving surgery.

Now, fast forward to 2019 and after the retired doctor required surgery to repair the lower left side of his jaw, Catherine insisted that she come and support the 71-year-old on his road to recovery.

Dr Thomson had to have the reconstructive surgery after he had cancer of the tongue 14 years ago and the effects of the chemotherapy had damaged his jaw.

He told the Gazette: “I speak to Catherine regularly, so she was very much aware of the surgery and had offered to come and help me once I was out of the hospital.

“I rang her again once I had had the surgery and with four days’ notice she was over here giving me and my wife support.”

It was fortuitous circumstances that led to the pair meeting as Dr Thomson was only visiting the hospital in Sierra Leone because an operation he was supposed to be doing aboard a Mercy Ships vessel - a charity which provides free life-changing operations for west African people and of which is now a board member of - was cancelled.

From here the pair built up a close friendship, and remained in close contact, with Catherine and her daughter Regina both going into the health care industry, working at a hospital in Australia.

Dr Keith added: “I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else looking after me.

“It wasn’t a ‘time to pay back’ situation it was nice having a familiar face with me, help to feed me and keeping me active.”