Leeds methodist preacher writing again after surgery to cure ‘claw’ hand

Preacher David Stead.
Preacher David Stead.
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Methodist preacher David Stead is writing sermons again after surgery to cure his ‘claw’ hand.

It all started when David, 74, from Armley, Leeds noticed a lump on the palm of his hand below his little finger.

His fingers then started to curl and he found he couldn’t straighten them again, leaving them bent into the palms of his hands. Losing the use of his fingers started to affect his day-to-day activities, he was knocking things over and struggled to hold a hot drink. He had to ask his wife Margaret, to cut up his food as he had difficulty holding a knife and fork properly.

As the condition progressed he found writing by hand almost impossible and had to resort to two fingered typing.

“My hand was curling up like a claw. It affected every aspect of my life,” said David, whose work involves performing services of worship and organising social activities at 23 churches within the Methodist circuit across Leeds.

David was referred to consultant plastic, reconstructive and hand surgeon at Spire Leeds Hospital, Daniel Thornton, who diagnosed Dupuytren’s disease. The disease causes a thickening of the connective tissue of the palm and fingers. It usually starts with a tiny lump in the palm. As it progresses, string-like cords develop beneath the skin and the affected fingers pull towards the palm and cannot be straightened. Famous sufferers include actor Bill Nighy and the late Lady Thatcher.

It isn’t known what causes the condition although there are believed to be genetic links.

“When David first visited me both little fingers were stuck in the palms of his hands,” said Mr Thornton. “This was seriously restricting his activities both in work and at home. Further deterioration would have rendered the little fingers useless with them getting in the way and weakening his grip.”

David underwent surgery in August 2014 to remove the tissue responsible for holding his fingers in their bent position allowing him to straighten them again improving his grip. At the time he was also showing symptoms of the same condition in his other hand and was advised to have surgery before it worsened, whichi he did the following year, February 2015.

David said he noticed improvements after a couple of weeks and was able to use his hand fully six weeks later. Today he is pain free and has full flexibility of his hands restored. “I’m very happy with the results,” he said. “In a sense it has given me a new lease of life, I have the full use of my hands.”