Eight-year-old Lucy from Hunger Hill went to the shop and ended up needing to be taken to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital by Air Ambulance. Here her dad Dave tells us their story:
It was a Thursday morning in early September, Lucy was playing out with friends when she came to me and asked if she could go the local shop. I was in the middle of paperwork and said: “Give me ten minutes and I’ll take you.”
At 11.30am, a little boy on his scooter knocked on our door and gave us the news no parent wants to hear – Lucy had been run over. I shouted my wife Sharon, and we ran out of the house, didn’t lock the doors and got straight into the car to go and look for her.
As we approached we could see two girls lying on the floor, I didn’t know which one Lucy was or what state she was in. There were ambulances, police, and fire engines and then I heard the helicopter – I instantly knew it was bad and I thought we are going to lose our little girl.
I saw Lucy and there was a lady holding her hand giving her comfort. Lucy was unconscious and the paramedics had hold of her head and they were cutting her clothes off as they needed to get her on a stretcher and to the helicopter 100 yards away. Sharon lay on the floor and held Lucy’s hand. Lucy had grazes and we could see there was no skin on her knuckle. I just wanted to pick her up and hug her, but they needed to get Lucy stable as she wasn’t responding, not even to our voices.
They explained that they needed to put Lucy into a medically induced coma. I was shocked; the severity of the situation truly hit home. They told us Lucy would be taken to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and we were put into a police car and driven straight there.
I assumed Lucy would land directly at the hospital but we were later told that the helicopter had landed in a park and Lucy had then been transferred to a road ambulance to be taken to the hospital, extra time in getting my daughter to the care she desperately needed.
When we arrived at the hospital, Lucy was in resus in the Accident and Emergency Department being assessed. It felt like time was dragging, I just wanted to know she was going to be OK.
The doctors came to see us and told us Lucy was very, very poorly. We were told that an ultrasound revealed that she had a lacerated kidney and that Lucy would need a CT Scan of her head and body to assess if there was any damage.
We went with her for the CT scan and sat outside desperately waiting for news. The doctor came to us and told us that Lucy had a fractured skull and that she has likely injured her brain but couldn’t say at that point to what extent and how Lucy would be affected.
They told us she would need an MRI Scan and within two hours of arriving at the hospital Lucy was moved to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).
I was shocked when I saw all the wires coming out of her. She had wires on her hands, feet and legs as well as her heart. We were told that Lucy had bruising on the brain and so that they could monitor the pressure they would need to put a wire inside her head. I sat by my little girl’s side for the next three days and nights talking to her, stroking her and watching the monitors - desperately hoping she was going to be OK.
A few days later they told us that they would start to bring her out of the coma. They tried to take the intubation away but she was struggling with her breathing – they told us that this was normal so not to worry, but when you just want your little girl back it’s hard not to.
Lucy was finally able to breathe by herself but we were told it could take a few days before she might respond as all the medication would still be in her system. It was still a shock when she didn’t move and I found myself watching and waiting for the slightest movement. I just wanted her to look at me and say “Hello Daddy”.
A doctor came to check her reactions and pressed his knuckle onto her chest. She grimaced and the doctor gave us a thumbs up. That was a huge wave of relief and was the first time since the accident that I thought there was a chance that everything might be OK.
Even though Lucy started to come round it was still a waiting game to see what damage her brain may have suffered and what her long term prognosis might be - we didn’t know if she would be the active sporty little girl she was before.
Lucy’s consultant Doctor Vassallo took us into a room and showed us the scans of her brain. She told us there would be some changes to Lucy, but it could take weeks or months until we knew the full extent. They prepared us for the fact that her personality may have completely changed and her speech may be different.
After five days on PICU, Lucy was moved to the High Dependency Unit and that felt like a step in the right direction. Her progress was good and just 24 hours later she was moved to a ward.
Lucy started to move, she would crawl around to try and get things and she would try and get out of bed but she had a broken tibia and fibia and had to have a full leg cast for six weeks, which made it difficult for her and we were still waiting for her to speak.
We’d been in hospital for 12 days and I was still waiting for a “Hello Daddy” from her. My mobile phone rang, and it was Lucy’s teacher from school. Lucy held her hand out for the phone. I told her who it was and passed her the phone, I heard her teacher start talking and then Lucy replied. To hear her voice was such a relief that I had to turn away so Lucy couldn’t see the tears in my eyes and her Mum Sharon had to go out the room as the emotion of it all just hit us.
Lucy continued to get better and was receiving intense physio and speech and language therapy, and then we got some fantastic news - we could take her home for a weekend.
I can’t tell you how great it feels to bring your daughter home, to feel like you are returning to normal life. I was just sad that we had to go back into hospital on the Monday but they needed to continue to assess Lucy and see how the injury had affected her developmentally.
After spending nearly one month in hospital we were told that we could go home permanently. We were ecstatic. We just had to come back for follow-up outpatient appointments to check Lucy’s hearing, eyes, her kidney and also her fractures.
When we first got home we had to readjust and Lucy didn’t want to go out at all. It felt like she was afraid to leave the house or she would want to leave and we would pull up at somewhere like Asda and she’d ask to go straight home. We also had to deal with some night terrors, which we think was Lucy reliving snippets of the accident.
Several months on we can see more now how Lucy has changed, our once quiet and shy daughter is now more forward, often speaking what is in her head making for some awkward and also funny situations with people who don’t know about her injury. Her learning ability has been affected more on the reading side of things and her memory isn’t as good as it was before the accident. Her appetite, however, is much better and she now eats like a horse!
Lucy says she can’t remember the accident but we can and it took me six months before I would let her out the door to play with her friends.
We’ve just been given the news that there are no scars on her kidney and to look at her you can’t tell she had a fractured skull, we can see there is a slight skin colour change on that side but nobody else notices.
We knew Lucy was in the best possible place for her care, the PICU team were fantastic and we love Dr Vassallo. Looking back we assumed that Lucy would have flown and landed straight at the children’s hospital, not at a park.
We are lucky. Lucy is doing really well and was able to access the care she needed in time. However, we are only too aware how different our situation could have been had she not got to hospital when she did. The precious time that secondary transfer by road ambulance takes has the potential to be the difference between life and death or between living well and just existing.