A FATHER has turned the grief of losing his young son into a passion project and has unveiled his dream to build a robotic surgery training centre in a bid to save lives.
Poole-businessman Robert Eaton has partnered with a planning consultancy, an architect and health professionals to build a three-storey training facility in Poole to champion robotic surgery following his painful experiences.
His story is one of grief, but emerging from that dark place is his inspiration to bring the scheme to reality.
He told the Echo: “This dream is to build an innovative centre dedicated to the advancement of laparoscopic and robotic training surgery.
“Why? In 2009 our son lost his life when he was 17. Ryan had a condition known as Ehlers Danlos Type four vascular, suffered a catastrophic incident, and he died in our arms in Poole Hospital.
“In 2011, on my birthday, I was sat at home at the breakfast table when my wife’s splenic artery ruptured, for no reason – it just exploded. There’s not much you can do about that other than pray.
“My wife, Debbie, had the same condition as our son and so I got her to Poole Hospital – that’s the day I met Professor Tas Qureshi who saved Debbie’s life.
“With her condition, to be able to save Debbie was a miracle and how do I thank the man who saved my wife’s life, bearing in mind I lost my son? That day was the start of our effort to bring robotic surgery to Poole.”
The project was kickstarted when Robert’s friend and mentor Robert Braithwaite – founder of Sunseeker – donated a £3.4 million surgical robot to Poole Hospital following his successful bowel cancer surgery undertaken by Professor Qureshi.
In 2017, Project Q was launched with the vision to develop a robotic surgery training facility in Poole.
Following the impact of Braithwaite’s passing in 2019 as well as the Covid pandemic, Robert Eaton says the multi-million-pound project has got its “pedal back on the metal” with plans to submit a planning application at the end of June.
The facility would be located at 158-160 Stanley Green Road in Poole and would house classrooms, state-of-the-art training rooms, offices, mental health care, and even a top floor restaurant – replacing the current garage and mobile restaurant site owned by Robert.
Working with Darryl Howells Planning Consultancy, Seal Designs, Professor Qureshi and former Poole Council leader Janet Walton, Robert says he has been thrilled with the community reaction to the project.
He concluded: “This affects all of us. There is no cultural, religious or political persuasion that can’t benefit from this because it will help people.
“It took tragedy for something good to happen, but we want to cut the tragedy out and make only good things happen.”
Visit facebook.com/rbprojectq for more information.