Tributes have been paid to Western Isles surgeon and consultant Alaa El-Banna, who passed away suddenly on Thursday (30 July).

Patient and colleague Margaret O’Brien led the tributes with a sincere and heartfelt summary of his impact on saving her own life in April 2014.

She said: “Mr El-Banna was a colleague of mine when I worked in the management office in Western Isles Hospital. He is also the surgeon who saved my life on the 6th April 2014 when he performed a tracheostomy procedure.

“Every surgeon in intensive care in Glasgow and Edinburgh said that he did an outstanding job. They all said if Mr El-Banna had not been on call/on duty that might I would not be here today. 

“The day I returned to our hospital he came to visit me, and I got the opportunity to say thank you to him for saving my life. He said: ‘No, I didn't do anything, I did nothing, it's just my job". He wouldn't take the credit for it. 

“He will be a great loss to our hospital. My family and I will always be very grateful to him. It's a strange feeling, the man that saved my life and many other people's lives has lost his own life.” 

Another patient said: “I owe him so much and didn’t get the chance to thank him properly. We were truly blessed to have him in our lives when we needed him.”

Colleagues at Western Isles Hospital and at his former workplaces in Ayr and Biggart described a unique, larger-than-life character, a fantastic surgeon, a true gentleman and a great personality who would be sadly missed.

In response to the tributes, a family member posted: “We, as his family El-Bannas, thank you for your sincere words. Dr El-Banna was indeed an exceptional man who performed his job as a doctor wholeheartedly. We are all so shocked by his abrupt departure.”