rower who needed extreme surgery on twisted spine faces epic 3,000-mile Atlantic crossing

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Mark Gibson is taking over large problem for Movember Basis after wonderful restoration from scoliosis

A ROWER who wanted excessive surgical procedure to appropriate his horribly contorted backbone is set to beat his newest impediment – rowing throughout the Atlantic Ocean.

Mark Gibson, 29, is a part of a four-man crew who will row day and night time for the following month and a half to lift money for Movember.

Mark Gibson’s backbone was distorted by scoliosis

The X-ray shows the horrific extent of Mark’s twisted spine

The X-ray exhibits the horrific extent of Mark’s twisted backbone

However the daunting problem is much more exceptional given his disabling spinal situation as an adolescent.

Mark’s extreme coliosis – which noticed his backbone twist into an ‘S’ form – was first recognized when he was 12.

4 years later surgeons opened hin up the size of his backbone to insert metallic rods, pins and bone taken from his personal ribs to straighten his spine.

Mark mentioned: “The primary surgical procedure lasted in extra of 10 hours and concerned slicing my left facet open half of the size of my torso.


Mark in hospital after one of the two operations he needed to correct his curved spine

Mark in hospital after one of the two operations he needed to correct his curved spine

The X-ray shows the amazing extent of Mark’s recovery

The X-ray shows the amazing extent of Mark’s recovery

The four-man crew, from left, Steve Baker, Dan Baker, Mark Gibson and Jon Lakin

The four-man crew, from left, Steve Baker, Dan Baker, Mark Gibson and Jon Lakin

“The muscular discs between my vertebrae were moved and pieces of my ribs were removed.

“I then spent a week in traction to try and straighten my spine out.

“The second operation involved cutting me open from the base of my neck and down the entire length of my spine.

Four friends prepare to take on the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in aid of the Movember Foundation

“Two metal rods, 18 plus pins, and the ribs taken from the first operation, were then used to straighten my spine and help the bones fuse in place.”

Mark’s problems however continued once his spine had improved.

The crew and the boat they will use to cross the Atlantic for 40 days

The crew and the boat they will use to cross the Atlantic for 40 days

The nine-metre boat where they will live for six weeks

The nine-metre boat where they will live for six weeks

The four-man crew are hoping to raise £100,000 for the Movember Foundation

The four-man crew are hoping to raise £100,000 for the Movember Foundation

“I went from being an outspoken, very active individual, to someone who would lock myself in my bedroom and didn’t want to talk to anyone,” he said.

“I began to feel severely depressed. I could not play the sports like I used to, I had two massive scars on my back.”

His life turned a corner at university where he met friends who helped him talk his way out of depression.

Bucket… and chuck it

  • THE hi-tech boat is just nine metres long, and there is just about enough room for the four-man crew.
  • TWO will row on the deck while two sleep in the cramped bedroom.
  • THEY will take 240kg of dehydrated foom to keep them going.
  • THERE are two desalinators on board to convert salt water into fresh water.
  • THE toilet facilities are a bucket, tipped over the side, known as ‘Bucket and chuck it’.

Now Mark has joined with three close friends from Bristol – Steve Baker (26), Dan Baker (29) and Jon Lakin (30) – to take on the monumental challenging of cross the Atlantic Ocean in a row boat.

The quartet only took up rowing last year but they are confident they can set a new record when they start the 3,000-mile crossing on Tuesday December 12.


They will head off from La Gomera in the Canary Islands and will head to Antigua in the Caribbean.

Mark said: “We want to do it in 40 days, which means the boat can’t stop moving.

“We’ll be doing shifts in pairs of two hours on, two hours off. Two people have to keep rowing at all times.”

The team are raising money for The Movember Foundation, to help prevent death in young men from cancer and mental health issues.

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