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Durham artist’s widow presents his final painting to the surgeon who saved his sight

A North East artist’s final painting has been presented to the doctor who saved his sight at Sunderland Eye Infirmary.

Tom Hume died following a cardiac arrest while swimming off the Seaham coast last October. Twenty years ago, he awoke one day to find he had lost the sight in one eye – he was treated for a detached retina at the hospital, the only specialist NHS centre of its kind.

More recently, Tom’s sight deteriorated again when scar tissue formed over his retina, and this distorted his vision and made producing art difficult. So he went under the knife at the hospital under the care of Maged Habib.

The consultant ophthalmologist and retinal surgeon successfully restored Tom’s sight, and helped get Tom back in front of his easel. And in response, he produced a piece across July and August last year that he called Kosthalmic – a lingustic blend of cosmic and ophthalmic. Notes in his sketch book referred to the image as an eye.

He had planned to present this to Mr Habib, but unfortunately died after suffering a cardiac arrest while swimming at Seaham. He was 81 and leaves wife Barbara, children Benjamin and Jessica, and grandchildren Ella and Noah.

Artist Tom Hume, who died suddenly last year.
Artist Tom Hume, who died suddenly last year.
(Image: NHS / Hume family)

Barbara decided to give the abstract painting to Mr Habib to fulfil Tom’s wishes. In a moving note, she told him about the painting and said it had been created in appreciation of his care.

Barbara said: “Tom completed the painting a fortnight before he died, not knowing it would be his last, and I felt it must get to Mr Habib, although I knew it would be hard to pass it on. His eyesight was so vital to him as an artist.

“When he first had the detached retina, we went to the optician and they sent him straight here to the eye infirmary and they did a fantastic job. He was always so appreciative of what they did for him.

“Then a few years ago his eye started to deteriorate and he met Mr Habib, they got talking about his painting and he was very curious about it. He always said how excellent he’d found his visits to the hospital. I hope Mr Habib finds a good place to put it.”

Surgeon Mr Habib added: “I was very moved when we received the note to say Tom had made this painting for me, I really had no idea he had created it. We were very sad to hear about this sudden death.

“It is exceptionally kind of Barbara to complete his wish, to visit us to present the painting and tell us about the process and time he took to create it. It’s a fascinating artwork and it was an honour to receive it. Tom was a delightful patient to meet in the clinic.

“He was always very capable of describing his visual symptoms in relation to the universe around him, describing the distortion symptoms and how it was affecting his painting, which was his passion. It was always fascinating to hear about his art ideas and painting abstracts, proudly showing me pictures of some of his previous work.

“I felt the weight of the responsibility on me operating on his eye. I was so happy to meet him after his operation and notice the improvement in his symptoms, which allowed him to resume his activities.”

Mr Habib said that patients like Tom “make a huge difference” to the work of doctors, and reflect the value of strong doctor-patient relationships.

Tom, who was born in Stockton, had been head of art at Middlesbrough High School, previously having studied at the Ruskin School in Oxford and Goldsmiths in London. After a heart attack at just 48. he left teaching and worked as an artist at home in Durham.

A major retrospective of Tom’s work is scheduled for 2025 at the William Allan Gallery at Ushaw College in Durham.

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View news Source: https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/health/durham-artists-widow-presents-final-29020481

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