Holby Wiki - Casualty and Holby City
Holby Wiki - Casualty and Holby City
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John Gaskell (died 6 November 2018) was a consultant neurosurgeon and the director of surgical innovation at Holby City Hospital.


Motor neuron reversal

At some point, Gaskell found a Hungarian man named Laszlo Furz who was presenting with symptoms consistent with end-stage motor neuron disease and had only a few weeks left to live. Gaskell began treating him and ostensibly reversed Laszlo's disease with stem cell treatment; Laszlo managed to make a full recovery and start walking again. (HC: "Group Animal - Part One")

Arrival at Holby City

On 5 December 2017, Gaskell arrived at Holby City Hospital as its director of surgical innovation and brought a patient named Michael whose spinal cord was being compressed due to a spindle cell tumour with him. Using a tissue scaffold laced with progenitor cells and with the help of cardiothoracic surgeon Jac Naylor, Gaskell successfully resected the tumour and implanted the matrix; after surgery, Michael's paralysis showed signs of improvement. (HC: "Group Animal - Part One") Later that day, Fredrik Johanssen stormed the hospital with a gun and targetted members of staff. In Gaskell's wet lab, he, Henrik, Sacha Levy and Essie Harrison treated Jac who had been shot in the back. Despite Sacha's unwillingness to gamble on Jac's life, Gaskell convinced him to assist him in inserting an experimental haemostatic matrix to stem a bleed from one of Jac's major blood vessels; the procedure was a success, and Jac was rushed to ITU once the hospital was taken off lockdown. (HC: "Group Animal - Part Two")

Beginning of stem cell therapy trial

On 9 January 2018, Essie, whose husband Raf was killed in the shooting, decided to donate a portion of his inheritance to Gaskell's intrathecal stem cell therapy project. (HC: "Ready or Not") The following week, given Essie's past experience as a transplant co-ordinator, Gaskell asked Essie to help him process the trial candidates. After spending the day working with Gaskell, Essie decided to commit to assisting Gaskell with the trial. (HC: "There by the Grace Of...") On 23 January, Gaskell asked F1 Meena Chowdhury to help out in the trial, and she eagerly agreed. (HC: "Hanssen Is as Hanssen Does")

On 30 January, Gaskell harvested a peripheral nerve from the ankle of a trial patient named Fiona Fawcett so he could implant it into her spine. Three days later, the conduit was ready for implantation, but Fiona decided not to go ahead with the surgery. Gaskell managed to convince Fiona to consent to the procedure and successfully inserted the conduit. Despite some post-op complications, Fiona eventually woke up and — to Gaskell's shock — reported sensation in one of her legs. (HC: "One Day at a Time")

Following the positive advance with Fiona, Gaskell began selecting "Patient Two". However, on 6 March, Fiona was taken into hospital with an infection and a deteriorating immune system. In theatre, Gaskell decided against removing the implant, resulting in Fiona experiencing multi-organ failure. Samples taken from the implant and surrounding tissue showed severe apoptosis, meaning that the implant stem cells had been destroyed and that the current stage of the trial had failed. In ITU, Fiona's condition deteriorated further, and she later died. Despite Fiona's death, Gaskell was determined to continue the trial and even approached acting CEO Serena Campbell about the position of medical director in order to grant himself more clinical and financial autonomy as well as influence; Serena decided to give Gaskell the post. (HC: "Square One")


Despite suggestions from his peers that he was "solipsistic" or a "narcissist", Gaskell insisted that he had no interest in himself and was solely obsessed about reaching his end goal. Following his success with Laszlo Furz, Gaskell enjoyed speaking to the public and the media about his achievements and work, but some people noted that he never approached other medical professionals. However, on the day of his arrival at Holby City Hospital, Gaskell presented Laszlo to Henrik Hanssen — the chief executive officer — and consultant Sacha Levy and invited them to use Laszlo as a test subject. Additionally, Gaskell urged his senior colleagues to scrutinise and doubt his every decision "like clarity is an ending", though he realised that he needed their endorsements for the sake of the other members of staff. (HC: "Group Animal - Part One")

Gaskell was also a philosophical individual and often discussed topics surrounding existence and the human condition. (HC: "We Need to Talk About Fredrik", "Ready or Not")

Gaskell would always keep a drawing of Lana's mother embracing him as a child at his workplace and refused to keep it "caged" in a frame. (HC: "Group Animal - Part One", "Report to the Mirror - Part One")



Henrik Hanssen

Gaskell and Hanssen were close friends while they attended the Rigden University of Medicine together, and Hanssen always believed that Gaskell was destined to make a major medical breakthrough. According to Roxanna MacMillan, Gaskell specifically moved to Holby because of what Hanssen fostered. (HC: "Group Animal - Part One") On the day of Gaskell's arrival, cardiothoracic surgeon Jac Naylor was found shot in the hospital basement, and Hanssen endorsed Gaskell's suggestion of using an experimental haemostatic matrix to fix a tear in Jac's aorta. (HC: "Group Animal - Part Two") After the shooting and in the wake of the revelation that Hanssen's son Fredrik was the perpetrator, Hanssen took issue with Gaskell checking up on him and asserted that he was not his patient. (HC: "We Need to Talk About Fredrik")

Roxanna MacMillan

Gaskell and Roxanna were close friends while they attended Rigden together, and Gaskell was later responsible for introducing Roxanna to her husband-to-be, David Hopkins. In December 2017, when it was announced that Gaskell would be working at Holby City Hospital as director of surgical innovation, Roxanna promised her colleagues that his tenure would be "some ride". (HC: "Group Animal - Part One") On the day of Gaskell's arrival, Fredrik Johanssen stormed the hospital with a gun and began shooting members of staff. When David died after his surgery was interrupted, Gaskell visited a grieving Roxanna and embraced her. (HC: "Group Animal - Part Two")


Jac Naylor

Jac confronts Gaskell about him "feeding on [their colleagues'] uncertainty". (HC: "Group Animal - Part One")

As Gaskell's equipment was being relocated to Holby City Hospital, Jac saw the commotion around his arrival as an "embarrassment" and expressed her suspicions about his choice to move to the hospital. While operating together on Michael Ambrose, after Jac lost her confidence and walked out of theatre, she confronted Gaskell about him "feeding on [their colleagues'] uncertainty", but Gaskell insisted that he needed her endorsement and convinced her to see the operation through to completion. Already struggling to keep herself composed, Jac looked Gaskell in the eye and saw a better version of herself in him. Shaken by the realisation, she lost control of her emotions and broke down in her office. (HC: "Group Animal - Part One")

Later that day, Jac was found in the basement with a gunshot wound to her back. Due to a lack of proper equipment and despite protests from Jac's friend Sacha Levy, Gaskell printed an experimental haemostatic patch which had only been tested on animals in order to control Jac's haemorrhaging. The procedure was a success, and Jac was taken to ITU once the hospital lifts were reinstated. (HC: "Group Animal - Part Two")

On 9 January 2018, while treating Ciara Hobbes — a woman with an aortic pseudoaneurysm and a dural arteriovenous fistula — together, Jac took issue with Gaskell advocating for Arianne Cornell's proposal of an aortic patch. Later that day, after Jac was forced to take over the surgery and revert to a frozen elephant trunk, Gaskell admitted that he partially manufactured the situation to bring out Jac's "true brilliance". (HC: "Ready or Not")

Sacha Levy

When Gaskell arrived at the hospital, Sacha was sceptical about the details of Laszlo Furz's condition, citing Gaskell's hesitance to present Laszlo's case to other medical professionals. After Gaskell managed to reverse a patient's paralysis using progenitor cells and gave Sacha and Hanssen permission to examine Laszlo, Sacha began to trust Gaskell. (HC: "Group Animal - Part One") However, his faith in Gaskell was put to the test when Jac was found shot in the hospital basement, and Gaskell proposed controlling her bleeding with an experimental haemostatic matrix. Due to its high risk, Sacha adamantly opposed Gaskell's idea, but he eventually acquiesced; the patch managed to hold, and Jac's life was saved. Once the hospital was taken off lockdown, Gaskell supported Sacha as he prepared to read a statement to the press. (HC: "Group Animal - Part Two")

Despite Gaskell's actions, Sacha was still sceptical of his stem cell project. In January 2018, after Essie donated a portion of Raf's inheritance to Gaskell's project, Sacha warned her that Gaskell was "potentially dealing in a fantasy off the back of a miracle", and her donation was a "drop in the ocean" to Gaskell. (HC: "There by the Grace Of...")

Essie Di Lucca

Following the shooting which left Essie's husband Raf dead, Gaskell encouraged her to assist him in theatre (HC: "Always Forever") and later offered his assistance when she was experiencing issues regarding Raf's will. Wanting to honour Raf's memory and put his money to good use, Essie decided to donate a portion of Raf's inheritance to Gaskell's intrathecal stem cell therapy project. (HC: "Ready or Not") By the following week, Essie began to doubt her decision, but Gaskell asked her to help him process the first batch of trial candidates. (HC: "There by the Grace Of...")


Behind the scenes

In April 2017, it was announced that Paul McGann would join the cast of Holby City as professor John Gaskell. In a BBC press release, the character was described as a "surgical star with irrepressible charm", and Oliver Kent - the Head of Continuing Drama for BBC Scripted Studios - said, "in [McGann's] hands, John Gaskell will be a mercurial force to be reckoned with, and I can't wait to see him locking horns with Jac, Henrik, Griffin and the other Holby titans."[1]