Wednesday 15 August 2018

'If I went to hospital even fifteen minutes later, I would have been a goner' - Irishman's 'miracle' recovery after US road crash

Philip Leavy suffered a traumatic brain injury following a road accident in the US
Philip Leavy suffered a traumatic brain injury following a road accident in the US
Kathy Armstrong

Kathy Armstrong

A young Irishman who has had a "miracle" recovery after being hit by a car in the US and sustaining a serious brain injury has said that he is now stranded over there and is desperate to return to Ireland.

Philip Leavy (30) was struck by a car in Orange County, California on February 1 and suffered a life-threatening head injury.

Philip, who had travelled to the US just weeks earlier on a graduate visa, has made remarkable progress and is now hoping to travel home to his Maynooth, Co Kildare.

He told Independent.ie: "I was walking to the shop one day at around 12pm and that's the last thing I can remember from that day.

"The police and friends have told me that I was legally crossing at an intersection when I was hit by a car.

"I was brought to hospital and within eleven minutes of arriving there I had an emergency craniotomy operation, I was then put into an induced coma.

"The doctors have told me that if I arrived at the hospital even fifteen minutes later I would have been a goner."

Philip woke up from his coma after two weeks and said it was a bizarre experience as he was convinced he was still in Ireland.

"I hadn't a clue where I was or what had happened, I initially thought I was in Maynooth and I wouldn't believed anyone who said I was in California.

"I only clicked when my brother showed me my location on Google Maps, my jaw dropped to the floor in shock, it was completely surreal," he recalls.

Other than his brain injury, Philip said there "wasn't a mark" on him after the accident.

He left hospital after a month and then spent eight days at a rehabilitation clinic in LA.

He is still taking a lot of medication and suffers from headaches daily.

Philip said: "Doctors have told me that it will take about a year for me to feel like myself again, I won't be allowed to work or drive or socialise until next February but it could be a lot worse, it's a miracle I'm here."

His travel insurance paid for his initial medical bills but not for his living expenses or medication.

He is staying with his friend Mary Spadoni in California, who has set up a Go Fund Me page to help cover these costs and to help sustain him when he eventually gets to fly home to Irealnd.

She told Independent.ie: "He is a very special young man and I feel lucky to have him in my life, I feel like I'm his adopted American grandmother.

"We're doing everything we can to support him and when he returns to Ireland he won't be able to work for a year so it's important that he has financial security."

The fundraiser has raised almost $14,000 (€12,000) in just eight days and Philip said he is stunned by people's generosity.

"It's given me a boost to know that people would even go to that effort.

"People over here and all the hospital and rehab staff have been so good to me but I'm desperately homesick.

"I'm going to see a neurologist for a second opinion tomorrow about when I can get a second brain surgery that I need, from there he will be able to assess when it's safe for me to go home.

"I think it will take about eight weeks and I'm looking forward to going back to Ireland."

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