Sacha was on a school trip to Richmond Park when a falling tree branch, weighing over 300kg, fell from a tree crushing him. Sacha suffered severe head injuries and broke his leg, arms, pelvis, back and five of his ribs.
Sacha’s mother, Jo, was ten minutes away when she received the call that Sacha was unconscious. Two and a half years on, she shared her and her family’s journey in our patient booklet. By reflecting on their experiences, Jo offers advice and support to those who have recently suffered critical injury.
“I was standing there looking at the London’s Air Ambulance doctor and paramedic anaesthetising Sacha. I never thought we would one day need their help. Now tubes were going into my son’s body and he was possibly about to die.”
Sacha was flown to The Royal London Hospital where a scan of his head showed a diffuse traumatic brain injury. Sacha was sent directly to Great Ormond Street Hospital, to remove a bone fragment from his brain and was kept in intensive care in an induced coma.
“The initial phase after the accident was incredibly surreal”, said Jo. “Looking back, I think it’s important to not become overwhelmed with the situation. If you feel you are not coping, just take a step out, take some deep breaths, and re-engage when you feel you can."
“You are allowed to have your own feelings about recovery. Staying hopeful, positive and encouraging each other was important.”
When he was stable, the decision was made to move Sacha to the Oxford John Radcliff Hospital. At this point Sacha still wasn’t conscious.
“We had no real idea about how well he would be functioning when he was conscious again. At first, he couldn’t speak, he didn’t seem to recognise us, and had some very disturbing episodes of ‘storming’, where his body relentlessly thrashed around the bed because of his brain injury. We tried not to think too far ahead and appreciated the small things that did improve.
“Luka refused to leave Sacha’s bedside and, as distraught as he must have been, he talked to him as if none of it was happening. He made jokes, spoke to him in silly voices and showed him videos on YouTube, until finally one day Sacha laughed. We were overjoyed. It was the first reaction he had since the accident, it was the first sign that his brain still worked.
“Sacha started to make progress and in less than three months he was ready to start learning how to walk again. Luka would always be at his physiotherapy sessions, motivating and encouraging him. Luka asked Sacha’s doctors so many questions they even gave him their mobile numbers.”
“It’s shocking to see your brother or sister injured and to see your parents upset too”, said Luka, who was eleven at the time. “I tried to stay positive for them and to let them see that I was still the same around Sacha. I tried to keep my family smiling and I tried to make Sacha feel less worried about his injuries by just carrying on as I always did”
After a month in the John Radcliff Hospital, Sacha moved to The Children’s Trust in Tadworth, a specialist centre for children with brain injuries.
“During rehab Sacha became more aware of his injuries and the impact this had on his brain and body. It can be hard to explain why an accident happened, what it means for them now and in the future. Take it slow – encourage each little step, allowing for frustration, sadness, and confusion. Your child will be feeling all the things you are feeling too. Staying hopeful that they can keep recovering will help them."
“Sacha is now at school full time with in-class support. He has various strategies in place to help him deal with the effects of brain injury. There will always be challenges in a mainstream learning environment, but with good support and understanding, we believe Sacha can go on to achieve great things!”
Sacha’s parent’s Jo and Igor acknowledge that there is a long journey ahead, but without the help of London’s Air Ambulance, Sacha wouldn’t be here today to keep fighting.
“The whole world changed for me after the accident”, said Igor. “Nothing is that important, nothing is that stressful after what we went through, you can’t even compare. I don’t have any problems in my life anymore. Without London’s Air Ambulance Sacha wouldn’t be here.”