When he was a teenager doctors told George Bruce's parents to prepare to say their goodbyes.

The then-15-year-old had been taken to hospital in excruciating pain but medics - despite extensive tests - had been unable to find out what was wrong with him.

Fortunately, after two weeks in hospital, a quick-thinking consultant and a sharp-eyed radiographer saved the day by identifying the problem using an ultrasound.

He underwent surgery, which saved his life, and the experience inspired him to become a Clinical Scientist specialising in MRI Physics.

"One evening I had a terrible pain in my stomach and my mum and dad rushed me to A&E,” Mr Bruce, who works at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, said.

"They took blood and I was given X-ray, CT and MRI scans, but nobody knew what it was.

"They repeatedly asked if I’d taken drugs or had swallowed anything sharp, even asking if my parents had been abusive.

"They made notes of how often my parents visited or enquired about my condition."

George became gravely ill and spent two weeks in hospital; his parents were told he may not survive.

"But then," he went on, "the consultant asked for an ultrasound and during that the radiographer spotted something unusual.

Glasgow Times:

"I underwent surgery – and it was that that saved my life."

George had Meckel’s Diverticulum with intussusception – “an abnormality of the small intestine, which can look like a second appendix,” he said – which is when a small pocket forms in a patient’s intestine.

It is very rare and usually harmless, but in a tiny number of cases it flares up, and that’s what caused the problems that George suffered from.

George, who now lives in Uddingston, added: “Only 2% of the population have one of these pockets.

"Of those, just 2% will develop complications as a consequence of their Meckel's, most commonly before two years of age.

"My understanding is that only 2% of symptomatic cases occur in people as old as I was."

The odds of this happening were 1 in 125,000 – or just eight in every million people.

George was a child who always wondered how things worked, and his initial dream was to become a doctor.

But after his illness, he realised that wasn’t for him and he was drawn more towards science.

"During my A-levels my teacher highlighted medical physics as a career," he said, "and because of the diagnosis process that helped me, I became interested in doing physics at university – in fact, that interest became dogged determination after my teacher told me I wouldn’t be able to do it.”

In his third year at university, George attended a talk on MRI physics and he realised this was the career path for him.


“I became fascinated by the challenges of getting images from inside a body,” he said.

“You see, X-ray is relatively easy to understand – you’re effectively ‘shining a torch’ into someone to see what you can see.

“Then there’s CT, which is more complicated. It involves taking multiple X-rays around the body, producing more detailed information about the inside of the body.

"There are a variety of other imaging techniques clinical scientists are involved in, such as ultrasound and nuclear medicine, but my chosen specialism was MRI “MRI works by resonating the hydrogen atoms [H] in the water [H2O] within the body using radio frequencies, inside a very strong static magnetic field, to produce a highly detailed image.

“It’s complicated and convoluted – basically I feel as though I’ve landed at the most confusing end of the scanning story, and I love it.”

George has been doing his current job for five years – and every day is a new challenge.

“It would be quite difficult to describe a typical ‘day in the life’ of an MRI Physicist. Our day-to-day varies a great deal based on clinical need, planned developments, teaching and MRI safety concerns. It's great to have a job that offers such variety.”

And since taking up his position, George has developed a passion for inspiring others to choose a career in health care science. He’s worked as a STEM Ambassador, going into schools and colleges and telling others about his role.

“I really enjoy telling the story of what I do. I want to show a young person like me, who’s not sure where their interest in science will take them, that there are brilliant, interesting, confusing careers out there.”