A Fermanagh born surgeon is one of the stars of a highly acclaimed medical programme which returned to TV this week. Surgeon Andrew Carrothers is starring in the new series of the BBC Two ‘Surgeons: At the Edge of Life’, which reveals the extraordinary and pioneering work of some of the country’s top surgeons.

Andrew’s decision to pursue a career as a surgeon in the area of trauma was motivated by his own traumatic past. In 1991, Andrew’s father Dougie Carrothers, an RUC Officer, was murdered by The Provisional IRA. Andrew was only 14 years old at the time.


“These sorts of events are pretty harrowing in your childhood to say the least but I sort of felt from that point then I always wanted to do something that would maybe help people, in the trauma setting particularly,” Andrew told The Impartial Reporter.

A self-proclaimed “Fermanagh man through-through”, Andrew was brought up initially in Brookeborough but moved to Lisbellaw and then on to Enniskillen in his youth. Growing up during The Troubles in Northern Ireland, he noted that hearing stories of tragedy on the news became normal.

“When it comes to your own doorstep it’s unbelievable but it’s part of life in Northern Ireland and it’s horrendous. So yes it inspired me and it’s a huge drive in my life and the values my father had, he had an extremely strong worth ethic, I try and live that out.

“ Not only that, I impress it upon my own children,” said Andrew.

Brookeborough Primary School

As a child Andrew attended Brookeborough Primary School and later Portora Royal School before travelling further afield to Manchester for university.

He completed his training in the city and then spent a year working in Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, Canada. For the last eight years Andrew has been working in Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge as a Consultant Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon.

In the first episode of ‘Surgeons: At the Edge of Life’, which aired on Tuesday (October 6) and is now available on BBC iPlayer, Andrew pushes at the boundaries of medical science with a complex operation that he has devised, called the Harrington Plus.

Frustrated by the lack of options for patients whose pelvis and hip bones have been badly weakened by cancer, Andrew added a crucial stage to an existing operation to enable cancer patients to walk again.

In the spotlight

Invented just four years ago, Andrew performs the 16th operation on 76-year-old Peter, a geologist who works at the British Museum.

Peter was living a full and active life when he suddenly collapsed at his home.

Peter had fractured his hip, and for the first time learned that he had prostate cancer.

The cancer had spread across his bones and weakened them so much that he faced being bed-bound for the rest of his life.

Andrew’s new operation should enable Peter to walk again, but it is a procedure with considerable risks including blockages in the lungs’ arteries and heavy blood loss.

Appearing on the BBC Two series is not the first time that Andrew has been put in the spotlight for his work. In 2013, Andrew made national news when he was flown down to Tilbury Docks to perform an amputation on an engineer who got his leg trapped in a crane mechanism over 100ft in the air.

“I had to take his leg off and then we got him out down the crane with the Fire Brigade and into the Air Ambulance and took him back to Addenbrooke’s so that was picked up by the national news,” said Andrew.

In retrospect

“Interestingly, a couple of months later, maybe six months later someone told me about a programme that had just aired on Casualty and it was basically the same story with a Northern Irish surgeon, right down to the accent, he had a Fermanagh accent.

“I hadn’t been involved in any of that, just literally a medical script writer had decided that this was a great opportunity so it’s quite funny, in retrospect.”

See Andrew at work in ‘Surgeons: At the Edge of Life’ which will continue for the next two weeks on Tuesday nights at 9pm on BBC Two.