Man who broke neck in crash makes miracle recovery
When Aaron Denham broke his neck in a road crash, no one expected him to survive.
The 22-year-old had a vertebra sliced apart in a fracture so severe it shocked even experienced trauma doctors.
His friends and family were summoned to his bedside and told there was little hope. For days they watched him lie in a medically induced coma, showing no signs of life. On the fifth night they picked the music for his funeral.
They were hours away from making a decision on when his life-support machine should be turned off when Mr Denham's hand twitched.
His case is so extraordinary that it will be written about in medical journals. Doctors were almost certain that, if somehow the carpenter did survive, he would be paralysed for life. In fact, he was walking after three months.
Three days ago he was told that he is expected to make a near-total recovery and is due to leave hospital next month. He said: "I've got a second chance in life." His mother, Debra Denham, 48, said: "Medical people have said it should never have happened; called it a miraculous turnaround. Aaron is my miracle."
Mr Denham had left work on Friday, March 11, and was cycling to the home he shares with his mother and sister Leanne, 23, in Fair Oak, near Southampton, England, when he was injured. In what his family called "a sheer accident", his bike and a car collided. Mr Denham was thrown over the top of the car, hitting his head when he landed.
Dr Andy Eynon, the director of major trauma at Southampton General Hospital, described the fractured vertebra as a "Christopher Reeve-type injury", referring to the Superman star who was left a quadriplegic after a riding accident.
With Mr Denham, his C2 vertebra, near his skull, was sliced in two, the fragments 9mm apart.
Dr Eynon, 47, said: "I have seen only one similar fracture in my life. I have asked one of my team to write up Aaron's case because it is so unusual.
"The vast, vast majority with that kind of injury will not survive, and if they do, they will be on a ventilator for life. I saw him in the emergency department and thought he was going to die. He is one very lucky boy."
After intensive physiotherapy, Mr Denham took his first steps in June.
Last Thursday, doctors said he would probably be discharged from hospital at the end of next month.
They now expect a 95 per cent recovery.
"The deciding factor was that he's a fighter, always has been," Ms Denham said. "I have a big grin on my face. My son has a future."