Family complain to Bristol hospital as rings go missing from amputated arm

A family has complained to Frenchay Hospital after a patient’s rings went missing from her arm after the limb was severed in a car crash.

Great-grandmother Doris Smith, 65, suffered horrific injuries after she and her husband crashed into another car while driving on a country road.  Mrs Smith, from Poulton, near Cirencester, was air-lifted to Frenchay Hospital where her left arm was amputated.  However, by the time it was incinerated fewer than 24 hours later, her three rings – including the wedding and engagement rings she had worn for 48 years – had vanished from the left hand.

The incident has been investigated by police, ambulance and hospital staff but no trace has been found.  Mrs Smith’s son Chris, 43, a builder who lives in Tetbury, said: “You’d like to think nobody would have stolen them with the state my mum was in. “It’s not so much the financial value of them – it’s the sentimental value.”   Mrs Smith was in intensive care for a week after the incident in November, before moving to a recovery ward, and later being transferred to Great Western Hospital in Swindon, where she suffered two major strokes.

Her son said hospital staff offered to return her clothing after the accident but they made no mention of the rings.   He said: “We have checked with the police, all of the ambulance crew and the hospital – but nothing.  “She wore those rings every single day and she definitely had them on during the accident.  “My mum never took them off – they were nice and tight.  “They would definitely not just have fallen off.”   Hospital staff told the family the arm was incinerated within 24 hours of the accident but there had been no trace of the three rings.

Staff at Frenchay Hospital said the rings were not on the hand when the arm was incinerated.  Director of nursing Marie-Noelle Orzel also said there was no record of jewellery being removed from Mrs Smith when she was admitted.  She said that an investigation had been launched and closed without resolving the mystery.

She said: “This is an unfortunate set of circumstances following an extremely distressing time for Mrs Smith and her family. “The amputated arm was checked before it was disposed of and nothing was found.”

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