Ged Galvin keeps a cell phone-sized remote control in his pocket at all times.
But it doesn't power his TV or DVD player. It helps him control his bowels.
In a devastating motorcycle accident two years ago, the 55-year-old from South Yorkshire, England, suffered major internal injuries. Though doctors initially thought he might not live, they miraculously restored broken wrists, a shattered leg, a fractured pelvic bone, a detached retina and more.
To Galvin's dismay, however, they couldn't repair the muscles in his bottom responsible for controlling bowel movements. He underwent a colostomy -- a procedure that allows patients to pass fecal matter through an opening in the abdomen, instead of the rectum, but he said he dreaded living forever with a colostomy bag outside his body.
But an innovative medical technique that allows him to defecate normally, with a pacemaker-like device and remote control, he said, has given him a new lease on life.
"I've been through immense pain and suffering," Galvin said. "And here I am with this bionic bottom now. I feel great. I feel fantastic."
The IT project manager, and father of two, said he was riding his motorcycle near his home two years ago, when a car shot out of a side road. The collision threw him 20 yards and, he said, "ripped me in two."
He spent 13 weeks in the hospital and three more in rehab. At first, doctors didn't think he would even survive the accident. Then, they didn't think he would ever walk again.
Time and again, Galvin's progress blew his doctors away.
"I was determined I was going to walk again. I knew I had to push myself," he said. "I'm really positive about things. I've always been like that. ... I just used the same mentality. I needed to get my body back and that's the consequence."
He also added, slyly, "I'm very stubborn by nature."
But though he healed beyond everyone's wildest expectations -- ultimately even walking -- he said doctors still couldn't address the problem he disliked most of all: the colostomy bag.
"I didn't want to tell people I have a stoma bag," he said. "It's a dark secret you're living with. Not necessarily because you're embarrassed but because you don't want to embarrass them either."
Twice, he said, doctors attempted operations to restore the sphincter muscles in his rear that control bowel movements. But Galvin was told the muscles were damaged beyond repair.
Still, he persevered, and his stubbornness apparently paid off.
His doctor referred him to Dr. Norman Williams, a Royal London Hospital surgeon and bowel disorder specialist, who thought Galvin would be an ideal candidate for his technique.
Called the Electrically Stimulated Gracilis Neosphincter (ESGN) operation, the procedure involves cutting a leg muscle from the groin to the knee and wrapping it around the patient's anus. The underlying theory is that the muscle, called the gracilis, will serve the function of the damaged sphincter muscle.
Though the gracilis and sphincter are different kinds of muscles -- one only works in short bursts, like when you want to run, and one must constrict continually -- the gracilis can be trained electrically to act like a sphincter and keep the anal canal closed.