A man who was once taunted as Rosehearty’s “Elephant Man” has died after a decade-long battle against health chiefs for treatment.
Michael Cull, 68, grew up never knowing who his real family was after being orphaned as a child.
He moved in and out of bedsits throughout London for most of his life before settling down in the tranquil north-east village of Rosehearty 12 years ago.
There, he would look out at the sea and stargaze between lecturing jobs on cruise ships.
But after a massive growth began taking over the former Nasa scientist’s left leg, he felt as if the world had turned its back on him. A constant by his side, however, was his best friend, Christina Brooks.
And last night, a devastated Ms Brooks, 65, slammed NHS Grampian for its treatment of “kind-hearted” Mr Cull after she could only look on in horror as he died in agony at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
The pair had been holidaying in Newcastle last month when his three-stone leg began bleeding.
“He was very, very ill,” Ms Brooks said.
“They took him to hospital to Newcastle and they put him on antibiotics and drops, and he was in intensive care for about three weeks before he was transferred up to Aberdeen.
“Now he’s dead.”
Mr Cull had pleaded with doctors to lop off his leg so that he could start fresh with a prosthetic last year, but ultimately never had the surgery.
And after doctors discovered two massive tumours growing within the mass of his leg, he was left shattered when they told him that even if they were to amputate, he would likely spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
From Mr Cull’s home yesterday, Ms Brooks reflected that the tumours had only appeared within the last three years.
“If they had only done the operation then, he’d be alive now. He was my best friend – I’ve loved Michael for 13 years, but I cannot bear the way he kept having the rug pulled from under his feet.
“I’m not saying they weren’t treating him well, but they left it far too late. I went up to see him yesterday and I could hear him screaming in agony. It was like being in a torture chamber.
“He was crying, yelling and screaming any time they tried to move his leg. It was black and blue from the bottom right up to the top, and things didn’t need to get to that stage.”
It was then that doctors told her the worst, that he was not going to last through the night.
She said: “I sat with him from 4pm yesterday afternoon, straight through to 6am this morning. He died at 3am.
“Suddenly the noises he was making stopped and that was it. I have so much hate in me now, because this did not need to happen. He was promised treatment time after time, but the plug kept being pulled.
“He had to walk around with big shoes and custom trousers for 10 years. If you had a dog and you treated it like that, you’d be thrown in jail.
“I’ve lost a very, very dear friend through incompetence and there is something radically wrong with that.”