Meet the fun-loving medic Alder Hey have christened Marvellous Matt
2 years ago
Drawing cartoon characters on his PPE or adding a NASA logo to the space-like suit, theatre medic Matthew Mhlanga never fails to raise a smile with young nervous patients.
But his self-styled creations have also proved to be such a hit with his colleagues at Alder Hey, they’ve christened him Marvellous Matt!
“I guess I’m just a big kid at heart myself,” grins Matt.
The 45-year-old father-of-two from Zimbabwe has worked in around 20 hospitals throughout the UK since moving here to train in 2002.
But it’s at the city’s world-renowned children’s hospital where Matt has worked for the last three years that he’s made the biggest impression yet.
Matt is an anaesthetic operating department practitioner and it’s his job to double-check paperwork and greet a patient when they first arrive at theatre.
“When patients are coming down for surgery, mine is one of the first faces they see,” explains Matt. “It’s my job to check names and that they’re having the correct procedure, and to make sure, importantly, that they are comfortable.
“It can be quite stressful, especially for the little ones, so it’s nice to make them smile and relax a bit, and make sure they’re happy and not so nervous.”
Fun-loving Matt always used to blow up surgical gloves and turn them into animals to lighten the mood and put young patients at ease, but he took it once step further when Covid came along and the use of PPE was stepped up, with masks, visors and hoods being worn increasingly as standard.
“It can be daunting to see people in masks and full PPE and I wanted to make it more fun,” adds Matt. “So if I’ve got a dental list, I’ll maybe draw a tooth carrying a toothbrush on my gown.
“Or I’ll draw a character. I just get myself on to their level. I’m a dad with two children, Nicole who’s 11, and Ryan, who is seven, and I know I’d want someone to do the same for them if they were having an operation.
“I guess it’s because I enjoy what I do too. I love my job and I wouldn’t change it for anything – and Alder Hey is a very special place.
“I was surprised at the response to my pictures but it’s nice and, while I have been singled out, there’s a lot of people, staff and volunteers at Alder Hey, who are doing amazing things.”
A frustrated artist maybe?
“I don’t think so,” laughs Matt. “Like I said, just a big kid!”