AN amateur footballer who suffered a career-changing knee injury has featured in a national documentary following the region’s air ambulance service.
Gary Jackson, 25, of Kirkby Stephen, suffered the freak knee injury while playing for his hometown football club last summer.
Describing the incident, Gary said: “I went to control the ball when my standing leg slipped. No one even touched me. I heard a big crunch. I could see that my leg was bent the wrong way.”
The crunching sound Gary heard turned out to be the sound of both his cruciate ligaments snapping in his left knee.
Because of the severity of the injury, the Great North Air Ambulance Service was called. The doctor and paramedic team initially struggled to locate Gary’s kneecap, such was the extent of the damage to his leg.
Andy Mawson, director of operations at GNAAS, who was the paramedic on shift that day, said injuries of this type have been known to result in amputation.
He added: “Although Gary remained in commendably good spirits throughout, he’d actually sustained a very serious and complex orthopaedic injury that threatened to be life-changing.”
Although his limb survived, the injury did turn out to be a career-changer. Gary had worked in construction prior to the incident but given the extent of the damage to his knee decided to take up an opportunity at JT Atkinson, a builders’ merchant in Kirkby Stephen.
“They’ve been very good to me, very supportive,” Gary said. “I’m as happy as a king, though I think it’s fair to say I’ve given up on my footballing career.
“When I woke up in hospital I felt fantastic. I remember asking if I could rejoin my team in the pub but I was told that wasn’t happening.”
Gary’s story featured in Emergency Helicopter Medics. The More4 series, shown on Sundays at 9pm, follows the work of GNAAS throughout last summer. It is available now on demand.
Now recovered, Gary paid tribute to his partner Briony Guy for the sacrifices she has made during his recovery.
He said: “If it hadn’t been for her I would have struggled this past few months. She’s keen for me to get my knee right so I can bend down on it and propose. It’s not quite there yet though.”
As for the outcome of the fateful match, Gary was injured with the score at 3-3, his team having squandered a 3-0 lead. “It had to be called off at that point,” Gary said. “Probably just as well.”
To support GNAAS and its doctor-led trauma teams, please visit the charity’s website at www.gnaas.com or call 01325-487263. Last year, it needed to raise £5.1m to survive.