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Luke Flavell

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Luke Flavell

Luke Flavell

Don't give up

When Luke Flavell's car hit a lamppost in July 2012, the 22-year-old was left with a broken spine and a near-fatal brain injury that changed his life forever.

But despite doctors fearing the worst, Luke's parents refused to turn off his life-support machine and, gradually, brave Luke beat the odds and battled back from his nine-day coma.

"When my mum answered the door to the police, her first fear was for my dad as he works for the council on the roads," said Luke, from Dudley. "But then the officer said my name.

"I'd only had my new car 10 weeks and it was beautiful - absolutely fantastic. But on the day of the crash it was hammering it down with rain. I was only going 30mph, but that didn't matter when my car skidded out of control and hit a lamppost before crashing into a 3ft-wide wall.

"It took the firemen 40 minutes to cut me out of the car. I was so disorientated; I even remember feeling annoyed that they had to saw the roof off my lovely car, which let the rain in! But at the end of the day they saved my life.

I must have lost consciousness, but to this day I can hear the rotary sound of the helicopter that was responsible for rushing me to the QE hospital in Birmingham.

Luke was in a coma for nine days and his parents were told three times that he was going to die. Against all odds he started to show signs of improvement but was kept in the critical care unit for almost five weeks before being transferred to a hospital ward for a further two and a half weeks.

"Much of that time was a blur and it was almost six months into my recovery before I could fully comprehend what was going on," said Luke. "On top of that, I would suffer terrible rages and it wasn't until March 2013 that my behaviour began to calm down and settle.

"The most upsetting problem for me was that, during the crash, a fragment of bone sliced through my optic nerve, which impaired the peripheral vision in my right eye, meaning I haven't been able to drive since the accident.

"Although my doctor said the issue may sort itself out in time, I'm a car fanatic who was a mechanic for three years and I want more than anything to be able to get behind the wheel again."

Two years on from his ordeal, Luke, now 24, is doing much better and is now rebuilding cars - as well as his life - in his father's garage.

"I still have occasional balance issues," said Luke, who is being helped and supported by Headway Black Country. "But my communication and language skills are much better than they were after the accident and my employers at the AA have kindly said I am welcome back if ever I want to return to work. It's certainly something to work towards."

With the support of Headway Black Country, Luke also has dreams of one day becoming a paramedic so that he can deliver the same urgent care that saved his life to others in similar situations.

"There are so many people who sustain brain injuries as a result of accidents on a daily basis and every injury is different," said Luke.

My message to all brain injury survivors is don't give up. It doesn't matter what happens or how bad it gets. Don't give up.

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