A FAMILY who were told to “prepare for the worst” before their daughter battled back from the brink of death have thanked the air medics that helped to save her life.
Sandra and Graham Walkington and son Paul, have paid tribute to the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) which airlifted 19-year-old Lauren to hospital following a serious crash on the A168 at Boroughbridge, on September 1, 2016.
Mrs Walkington, from Marton-le-Moor, near Ripon, said: “Lauren and I were travelling between two cars going southbound, when a car coming in the opposite direction strayed onto our side of the road. The vehicle in front swerved and we were hit head-on, before the car behind also went into the back of us.”
GNAAS medics Dr Jonathan Howes and paramedic Andy Mawson were flown to the scene.
Miss Walkington, who had to be cut free from the wreckage by firefighters, suffered serious multiple injuries including a traumatic brain injury. The GNAAS aircrew put her into a medically induced coma – an advanced operation which is used only in the most serious of cases, to control a person’s airway.
Her mother had suffered eight fractures across her body.
Mrs Walkington said: “They didn’t think she was going to survive. The doctors told me to prepare myself for the worst. It was absolutely horrendous.
“I couldn’t see her for the first six days because I myself was too ill to be taken to her ward four floors below.
“I thought I wasn’t going to get the chance to say goodbye. I thought she was going to die.”
Mrs Walkington feared for her daughter’s life which was hanging by a thread as she made no progress in hospital.
“After a few days they put her back on ventilation and I thought ‘this is not good.’ I don’t think anyone really knew which way it was going to go. They said if she did survive, on a scale of zero to 10, her recovery would be a five,” she said.
Thankfully, Miss Walkington did pull round and she spent six weeks at Leeds General Infirmary before three weeks at Lascelles Rehabilitation Unit in Harrogate.
Despite her recovery, which has amazed medics, she continues to have some long-lasting effects because of the incident including memory loss, double vision and paraesthesia, also known as pins and needles, and she admits that she does sometimes struggle with the reality of what has happened.
However, her mother has praised her daughter’s grit throughout her recovery. She said: “Lauren is amazing. She has been so strong and determined and given 110 per cent.
“GNAAS saved her life. If it wasn’t for them, then she wouldn’t be here. I am just so pleased that we have been able to thank the crew in person, although we will never be able to thank them enough.”
Miss Walkington, a former pupil at Boroughbridge High School, deferred her studies in Business and Marketing Management at the University of Sunderland because of the incident.
She said: “My life has been put on hold for a year since the crash, but I wouldn’t have that life if it wasn’t for GNAAS.
“Thank you for giving me a future.”
The family have since held a fundraising race right in their local village to raise funds for the charity.
To find out how you can help GNAAS, which is celebrating 15 years as a charity, please visit www.gnaas.com