Several tabloid media outlets have this week reported on the case of Darren Wilkinson, a 51-year-old man from Sheffield who has had 90% of his jaw removed after an ameloblastoma tumour was discovered. Wilkinson reportedly hadn’t visited the dentist in 27 years, finally going after his wife registered him and booked an appointment. The tumour was described as being ‘the size of a fist’.
Wilkinson’s wife, Mel, explained that “he would wake up in the morning with blood on his pillow and have a really bad breath from time to time”. However, she simply “thought he wasn’t brushing his teeth properly”.
Wilkinson’s case was later referred as non-urgent to the Charles Clifford Dental Hospital in Sheffield. It was there that two biopsies confirmed that the large shadow seen in the dentist’s x-ray was in fact an ameloblastoma that needed to be removed as soon as possible.
The operation to remove 90% of his lower jaw and to insert titanium plates was scheduled for the March, but postponed due to Covid-19, instead taking took place in April. A week later, it is reported that Wilkinson developed sepsis and needed to undergo emergency surgery. In total, Wilkinson underwent six emergency surgeries due to complications and infections.
While Wilkinson is currently unable to eat, drink, or speak, the plan is for him to receive a transplant from his lower leg bones in an attempt to rebuild his jaw. In the meantime, he has established online support groups for those with similar diagnoses and is working to raise awareness of rare tumours, such as ameloblastoma, while raising funds to support the Bone Cancer Research Trust.