A WIGTON man was inspired to volunteer for the Blood Bikes after receiving a roadside blood transfusion following a life-changing motorcycle collision.
Stephen Carr, 60, had been shopping in Carlisle and decided to take the long route home on his motorcycle as it was a hot day.
As he was travelling near Hutton-in-the-Forest, north of Penrith, he was involved in a collision with a van and ricocheted onto a sandstone wall.
Stephen has no memory of the incident but suffered life-changing injuries including a fractured skull and traumatic brain injury, two fractured cheekbones, a fractured collarbone, seven fractured ribs, two fractured vertebrae, a collapsed lung, a damaged spleen, an open book fracture to his pelvis and a damaged knee.
The critical care team from the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) responded to the incident and spent 50 minutes treating Stephen on scene, including giving him a blood transfusion, putting him in a medically-induced coma and performing a thoracostomy, which involves making a small incision at the side of the chest to release a build-up of air from the chest cavity to help reinflate the lung.
He was airlifted to Royal Preston Hospital and spent two weeks in the critical care unit, where he remained in an induced coma for the majority of that time due to intracranial pressure on his brain. A metal plate was fitted to repair his pelvis and his knee injury was cleaned and treated.
He was then transferred to a ward, where he had to learn to swallow again so he could start eating for himself.
After five weeks, he was transferred to the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and stayed there for three weeks before finally returning to his home in Wigton.
He said: “Recovery was very slow. I was off work for 14 months, during which time I attended a lot of hospital appointments, spent time with an Occupational Therapist, Speech Therapist, Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, Neurological Occupational Therapist and Occupational Health people.”
After the incident Stephen suffered short term memory loss, which he still experiences to this day.
He said: “I still have short term memory issues, get worked up and snappy very easily, whereas before my accident I was very laid back. I also feel the cold a lot more. I have no sense of smell, so guess who gets the job of changing the grandchildren’s dirty nappies.”
In 2017 Stephen’s family and friends raised £2,767.64 for GNAAS from sponsored walks and car boot sales, and presented a cheque to the team who helped him.
He said: “When we went to GNAAS’ base in Langwathby, Penrith, in October 2017 to present the cheque, doctor Theo Weston and paramedic Terry Sharpe, who treated me at the scene, were on duty, and me and my family were delighted to meet them.
“I can’t explain how grateful I am for GNAAS, because I know that if it hadn’t been for them I would not be here today.”
Since the incident Stephen has passed his advanced driving test which has enabled him to volunteer for Blood Bikes Cumbria, who provide a free out-of-hours medical courier service of blood and related products.
Stephen said: “One of the duties is to ensure that GNAAS have a fresh supply of blood products every single day, this means that 365 days a year someone volunteers to keep this service going. It gives me great pleasure to be able to be one of those people and I feel as though I am giving something back to help the team that saved my life.
“I would ask anyone to donate what they can to GNAAS, as you never know when you might need them. In 2023 they were called out more than 2,100 times. My life is only one of thousands that they have saved and they rely on donations to keep going, so please keep on giving.”