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Former Patient at Kate Middleton's Hospital Details Recovery After Abdominal Surgery: 'It's a Bit Scary at First'

An insider tells PEOPLE about his experience at The London Clinic

<p>Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty</p> Kate Middleton at the opening of Evelina London

Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty

Kate Middleton at the opening of Evelina London's new children's day surgery unit in London on December 5, 2023.

Kate Middleton is in good hands at The London Clinic, says a former patient who had abdominal surgery at the private hospital last year.

The Princess of Wales, 42, is recovering at the renowned hospital near Harley Street in the Marylebone neighborhood of London where Kensington Palace announced that she had “planned abdominal surgery” last week. A former patient who had abdominal surgery at The London Clinic exclusively tells PEOPLE about what it was like and how the facility uniquely helped his road to recovery.

“I had a really good experience. I think the experience is always dominated by how well your surgery goes and the best surgeons are associated with The London Clinic, who are leading in their field in both research and surgery. I had a super surgeon, it was all very efficient; I was on the operating table two hours after I went in,” the insider tells PEOPLE of his treatment in June 2023.

The London Clinic is the largest independent, private hospital in the U.K. and can treat approximately 155 different conditions. The facility employs an extensive care team of over 1,000 nursing, clinical and support staff, which the former patient says makes all the difference.

“The nurses are just unbelievable, incredibly attentive to your needs. The hospital is very well-staffed, and they all seemed very knowledgeable, very sensitive and caring. The physios [physical therapists] are amazing helping you recover and get back on your feet,” he says. “After abdominal surgery, you need a lot of patience, and it’s a bit scary at first.”

<p>Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty</p> Kate Middleton at the opening of Evelina London's new children's day surgery unit in London on December 5, 2023.

Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty

Kate Middleton at the opening of Evelina London's new children's day surgery unit in London on December 5, 2023.

Related: All About Kate Middleton's Surgery Hospital — and the Other Royals Who Have Been Treated There

Kensington Palace announced on Jan. 17 that Princess Kate had “successful” abdominal surgery the day prior and added that she was expected to remain at the hospital for 10 to 14 days before heading home to continue recovering. The former patient says that the timeline mirrors his own experience and that he got to leave a “little sooner.” When he had to return after contracting an infection, “they cared for me very well,” he says. 

While he was at the clinic last summer, the insider tells PEOPLE that he was struck by the nurses’ dedication to those in their care.

<p>Rasid Necati Aslim/Anadolu via Getty</p> Police officers stand guard outside The London Clinic on Jan. 18, after Kensington Palace announced Kate Middleton had had surgery there.

Rasid Necati Aslim/Anadolu via Getty

Police officers stand guard outside The London Clinic on Jan. 18, after Kensington Palace announced Kate Middleton had had surgery there.

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“The doctors come and go, but the nurses are the backbone of that hospital. They are incredible, and I don’t have enough good words to say about them,” he says. "I would have bed sweats in the middle of the night which would leave my bed completely drenched, and they would come in and change it all in a few minutes. They are so caring and made you feel like nothing was too much trouble.”

During his convalescence, the former patient says the “incredible” physical therapists taught him tricks to aid recuperation, and that the porters “make you laugh.” Children are not allowed to visit The London Clinic without permission from the matrons, which the insider says is due to the negative pressure to keep infections at bay.

<p>Adrian Dennis / AFP via Getty</p> Prince George, Princess Kate and King Charles leave St. Mary Magdalene Church at Sandringham on Dec. 25, 2023.

Adrian Dennis / AFP via Getty

Prince George, Princess Kate and King Charles leave St. Mary Magdalene Church at Sandringham on Dec. 25, 2023.

“One day my son turned up with my wife as we didn’t know the rule, and they kindly made an exception and let him come up to see me, but I think he found it really scary so I’m not sure I would do that again,” he says of the experience.

The insider says that he found his recovery journey to be a slow road, even though his baseline health had been good.

“Even several weeks after the op, I would feel exhausted after the slightest chore or walk. It can be quite a slow recovery. I’m pretty fit and active, and it took me a few months to get back to even a gentle swim or a proper walk,” he says. "I had the surgery last June, and I’m back to full health now but it took a while. It’s quite a major op."

Related: Did Kate Middleton Hint at Health News by Missing This Key Meeting?

The insider says his room was “lovely and big” and a spare bed was brought in for his wife.

“The level of service was excellent,” he says, adding that the food was especially memorable.

“The food is good. It’s a la carte so if you want to make changes, they are pretty good. I was on a strict diet at the beginning, but when I had visitors, they were easily able to order whatever they wanted from the normal menu,” the former patient says. “My dad had a tuna sandwich and a cup of tea.”

The London Clinic has “three or four different menus” to meet any diet, from curries, salads and soups to a “low residue” list of options that are easily digestible, he says.

“It’s very plain food that’s really easy to digest, like plain rice, grilled salmon, grilled chicken, banana, plain mashed potato — no roughage at all. Dessert was jelly or custard, nursery food, really! I think the first thing I ate was clear chicken soup; it’s a very restrictive diet,” he recalls of what he ate during his stay. “There were two levels of the low residue menu, and you work your way up to the normal menu. They all know what you should be eating.”

The clinic says its catering team uses fresh produce, local ingredients, sustainably sourced fish and more. Executive head chef Paul O’Brien was named to a cohort of “culinary heroes” by the Craft Guild of Chefs for his work during the pandemic in 2021.

"Everything is nicely cooked and arrived on time, and it arrives on a tray with a silver cloche to keep it warm. There was a nice big TV, so I watched a fair amount of sport,” the former patient says. “Everyone was so helpful, gentle and attentive which made the whole experience much easier. I could call for whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted it. If I suddenly got hungry and fancied a bit of salmon and rice, they would make it for me.” 

<p>Samir Hussein/WireImage</p> Kate Middleton, Princess Charlotte, Prince George, Prince William, Prince Louis and Mia Tindall in Sandringham on Dec. 25, 2023.

Samir Hussein/WireImage

Kate Middleton, Princess Charlotte, Prince George, Prince William, Prince Louis and Mia Tindall in Sandringham on Dec. 25, 2023.

Palace sources tell PEOPLE that Princess Kate is “doing well” after having “successful” surgery at The London Clinic last Tuesday. PEOPLE understands that the issue was non-cancerous. The Princess of Wales was most recently seen on Christmas Day when she stepped out for the royal family's annual walk to church at St. Mary Magdalene near Sandringham.

"Based on the current medical advice, she is unlikely to return to public duties until after Easter,” the statement from Kensington Palace announcing Princess Kate's surgery said in part. “The Princess of Wales appreciates the interest this statement will generate. She hopes that the public will understand her desire to maintain as much normality for her children as possible; and her wish that her personal medical information remains private.”

Prince William was seen leaving The London Clinic last Thursday and is expected to postpone some engagements to support his family during this time. The Prince and Princess of Wales are parents to Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, 8, and Prince Louis, 5, who recently returned to the classroom following a holiday break.

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