A pub worker whose heart was crushing his ribcage due to a rare medical condition has been saved - after doctors slotted a 1ft-long metal bar inside his chest.
Dale Hay, 25, was born with the unusual Pectus excavatum condition which means his ribcage did not grow properly and was slowly damaging his vital organs.
But ingenious medics saved Dale's life by fitting a metal 'ribcage brace' through his insides which separates his ribs and protects his heart and lungs.
Now three years after the bar was put in place, doctors are now confident that it can now be removed, and Dale's ribcage will remain normal.
Dale, from Atherstone, Warks, said: "I'll be really pleased to finally get the bar out, as it can be a bit uncomfortable.
"It protrudes out of my ribcage a bit too, which looks a bit weird - but it has saved my life.
"My mates are always joking that they're going to sell me off as scrap metal - I don't know how much they'd get for me though."
Dale was born with the unusual condition, known as Pectus excavatum, but it did not develop until his early teens.
And after struggling to understand why he was constantly struggling to breathe, Dale tapped his symptoms into google - and diagnosed himself with the unusual condition.
He added: "I went to my GP and showed him what I'd found on the internet. I expected him to tell me off for looking up symptoms online and trying to diagnose myself, but instead he sent me to a chest expert.
"I had a scan at Heartlands Hospital, in Birmingham, and they said that my chest was very closed in, and if I wasn't treated, it would crush my heart.
"They told me they would insert a metal rod into my chest to try and separate my ribs, and force them to grow normally.
"It sounded a bit weird, but it was certainly worth it."
Three and a half years after his original operation, in summer 2010, Dale has now been told that he can have the rod removed.