Published: May 2020. Date of brain injury: August 2018 (child aged 15)
Haydn, 15, was riding his bike during the summer holidays in 2018 when he was hit by a car. An air ambulance treated Haydn at the roadside, giving him an emergency anaesthetic to take over his breathing and protect his brain as much as possible while he was transferred to the critical care unit at Addenbrooke’s hospital.
Haydn need life-saving neurosurgery. His brain was so badly injured that part of his skull had to be removed while the swelling went down. We were told the outlook was not good.
The doctors warned us that if Haydn did survive he would have life-changing injuries and be paralysed down the right hand side of his body, needing round the clock care.
Signing my approval for the surgery was a really hard moment. I knew it was such a risky operation, but that if I didn’t agree to it Haydn would have no chance. I felt like I was signing his life away.
Time in hospital
Miraculously Haydn pulled through and came out of his coma after 12 days. A few days after that he was trying to get out of his bed and walk.
In October 2018, after nearly two months in hospital, Haydn was moved to The Children’s Trust for specialist rehabilitation to relearn the skills he had lost. He had to learn how to walk and talk again.
At The Children’s Trust Haydn made good progress and was particularly motivated by music therapy. Music has always been a huge part of Haydn’s life but it took on a whole new meaning after his accident.
Haydn had only been out of his coma for a few days when he had first started to sing a few words. It had surprised us all – he couldn’t speak or have a conversation but he could sing! We couldn’t believe it – the whole ward was dancing!
Haydn’s music therapist at The Children’s Trust would have a phrase that Haydn wanted to learn. Haydn would repeat it to a beat. They were everyday phrases such as, ‘Can I have a drink please?’
His speech and language therapist also worked very closely with him to improve the pronunciation of the phrases.
We continued to focus on Haydn’s rehab after we left The Children’s Trust but we also had another focus as a family – campaigning.
When Haydn was knocked of his bike he hadn’t been wearing a helmet. Early this year we decided to start a campaign: Haydn’s Law is an official petition to make it a legal requirement for anyone aged under sixteen to wear a helmet when riding a bike.
I always struggled to get Haydn to wear a cycle helmet – this needs to become a law so we can help stop other families going through what we went through. Haydn has suffered life-changing injuries but we’ve actually been incredibly lucky, his accident nearly killed him.
Haydn’s life was saved by the East Anglian Air Ambulance who arrived at the scene of the accident – his story was featured on Emergency Helicopter Medics on Channel Four and we have links on our Facebook page. We want people to realise this can happen to anyone, and that children shouldn’t go out on their bikes without a helmet.
Looking forward to a bright future
Twenty months on from his accident Haydn is doing incredibly well and is catching up on his schooling. Physically he has recovered very well, but he still needs a lot of help with his reading, writing, speaking and sight.
I am so proud of all Haydn has achieved, he is an absolute inspiration. He is planning on going around schools and youth clubs in the near future, telling his story to children and young people and encouraging them to wear cycle helmets.
Haydn and myself have also appeared on television, raising awareness of music therapy for The Children’s Trust’s Magical Music Appeal, and of our Haydn’s Law campaign. Haydn also wants to walk up Ben Nevis to fundraise for The Children’s Trust. We want to thank them for all they have done.
We are so grateful Haydn has a bright future to look forward to.