It was nothing more than a warm handshake between two people meeting for the first time – but it was a gesture that saved Mark Gurrieri’s life. The hand that clasped his belonged to a GP, Dr Chris Britt, who noticed a ‘fleshy and spongy’ feeling which instantly triggered his professional concern.
A glance at Mr Gurrieri’s large facial features all but confirmed his suspicions and set alarm bells ringing.
Dr Britt had recognised the symptoms of acromegaly, a life-threatening disease caused by a benign brain tumour that affects just three people in every million.
The chance meeting led to Mr Gurrieri visiting his own GP, who referred him to a specialist, and the growth was removed last month.
The life-saving handshake happened on December 6, when lifelong friend Rob Thompson brought Dr Britt to an Italian restaurant Mr Gurrieri runs in Canary Wharf.
“I came out to meet them at the door. My friend, Rob, brought Chris along for the first time,” he said.
“We shook hands and I sat them down at the table. He didn’t say anything to me at the time but he turned to Rob as soon as he sat down and said ‘I’m sure he has acromegaly, I can tell you. I’ll stake my career on it.’