Tom and Leana
On a September morning in 2010, Tom was riding his motorcycle to his grandmother’s 90th birthday dinner when he was struck by a car at high speed in Hillingdon. His partner Leana received a phone call from Tom’s sister, a phone call that nobody ever wishes to take.
“I remember it vividly,” says Leana. “The first thing I could hear were sirens in the background. She told me that Tom wasn’t well and that he had been airlifted, so I knew straight away that something bad had happened. My whole world collapsed in seconds. I didn’t know what to do.”
Tom, aged 23 at the time, was critically ill, having sustained severe injuries to his head, chest, pelvis, and spine. Our advanced trauma team was dispatched to the incident by aircraft and worked against the clock to normalise his breathing, stabilise his broken spine, and stop the bleeding into his chest and pelvis. The decision was then made to transport Tom back to The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel by helicopter so that he could quickly receive the further treatment he needed.
“I remember trying to run into the resuscitation room, but I kept tripping over myself because I was wearing flip flops,” Leana says. “The worst part was when one of the nurses came up to me and said ‘You do realize that he has had a serious head injury, right?’ That was pretty shocking.”
Despite Tom being minimally conscious for over a year after his injury, Leana was there for him every day, and for every step of his recovery. After eighteen long months, Tom finally emerged from his coma and underwent extensive physiotherapy and speech therapy at the Jacob Neurological Rehabilitation Centre in Essex. Tom was discharged home in December 2013.
“We owe so much to so many people that helped save Tom’s life, including London’s Air Ambulance. I’ll always be so grateful that the helicopter was available that day to get the treatment that he needed – and quickly. There’s no doubt in my mind that if Tom hadn’t been attended to by the team, and if it wasn’t for their speed in getting to the scene, he wouldn’t be alive today.”
Five years later, Tom still has goals he’s working towards. By the end of the year, he hopes to be able to go shopping by himself, which his doctors and physiotherapists believe will be possible. In addition, Tom is determined to eventually start walking by himself again, which he can presently only do with two helpers.
“Since the incident, I’ve been up to the charity’s helipad with Tom to see the aircraft and thank the doctors, pilots and paramedics that continue to help save lives in London every day, just like Tom’s. We got to see the helicopter take-off which was really emotional for me. It brought back memories of the day of Tom’s crash, but it also reinforced just how important the service is.”
Five years on, Tom has others to thank for his recovery. “If Leana and my family didn’t help me out, I’d be dead. She always gave me new goals and things to work for,” he says. “It is extremely important to have someone like her to keep you going.”
Leana will be running the London Marathon for London’s Air Ambulance in 2016. “Before Tom’s crash, I hadn’t heard of London’s Air Ambulance, let alone did I know that it is a charity. But now I do, and so do all of my friends, families and colleagues too.”
WE ARE ALL FACING A UNIQUE CHALLENGE; LONDON'S AIR AMBULANCE HAS ONLY 1 HELICOPTER TO LOOK AFTER 10 MILLION PEOPLE. PLEASE DONATE TO OUR 2ND HELICOPTER CAMPAIGN TO HELP US CHANGE THAT.