Motorcyclist thanks Air Ambulance for saving his life
A motorcyclist and father-of-two critically injured in a collision which shattered both of his legs and left him fighting for survival has spoken of his gratitude to the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) for saving his life.
Mark Delf suffered a catalogue of serious injuries to his legs – which his consultant described as the worst he had ever seen – after his motorbike collided with a pick-up truck while he was riding with friends in Northumberland in January.
Mark, 35, from Blyth, was left critically ill with serious injuries and massive blood loss and endured a ten-week stay in hospital, undergoing five major operations in six weeks to try and rebuild his legs. He has received, and will continue to undergo, extensive treatment as he battles to be able to walk again.
At the time of the incident, Mark’s partner, Karen Scholes, was heavily pregnant with their second child. She gave birth to Sophie on Mother’s Day in March in Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI), which is where Mark was being treated – happily, despite being seriously ill, he was able to be present for the birth.
The couple – also parents to Jessica, 2 – have thanked medics for their treatment of Mark, but are particularly indebted to GNAAS, whose swift attendance at the scene near Rothbury on January 5, and lengthy emergency treatment, has been credited as saving Mark’s life.
Mark – who says his ambition is to one day be able to ride a motorbike again – said: “I could never say how grateful I am. I had donated to GNAAS for a long time before my accident as it’s a brilliant charity, but never did I think I would need them. You just never think it will happen to you.
“Although it is awful having two children and not being able to take them out and run and play with them as I’d love to because I am in a wheelchair, I feel so lucky to be alive. The policemen who attended the scene of the crash told me afterwards they thought they were dealing with a fatality and didn’t think I’d make it.
“Karen and I know how different things could have been but for the speed of the emergency services getting to the scene and the treatment they gave, and no words of thanks will ever be enough.”
On day of the collision, January 5, Mark was out riding with friends, and was overtaking a vehicle when it pulled out and abruptly stopped. Mark slammed into the back of the truck and was thrown across the road.
The driver of the Nissan Navara has since pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention and was fined £80 and given four penalty points.
Mark, a self-employed plasterer, was conscious for much of the time, and remembers: “The pain I felt when I was lying by the roadside was indescribable and I could see the damage to my legs for myself. I feel so fortunate that as well as GNAAS coming so quickly, there was an off-duty A&E consultant from the RVI cycling past, who helped to treat me at the scene, as well as a children’s nurse who tried to distract me until the medics arrived.”
Karen, a maths teacher, who was seven months pregnant at the time, found out about Mark’s injuries when she was called by one of his friends and fellow motorcyclists in the group.
Karen remembers: “I found out Mark had been injured and the Air Ambulance was there – I suspected then it was very serious, but didn’t know how bad things were. Mark was conscious so that reassured me.
“It was later the realisation began to set in – the accident happened around 11.45am, but he was being treated until almost 4pm, including for an hour at the scene; I was moved into a side room at the hospital, with a policeman with me all the time; I was allowed to see Mark for less than a minute, before he was rushed off for more emergency surgery, which took hours. It began to dawn on me how serious this was, and it was frightening.”
Thankfully, due to the swift medical treatment he received, Mark responded well to the emergency treatment, and his condition stabilised after surgery. He was in hospital for over two months, enduring a raft of operations, and is now confined to a wheelchair. Numerous further operations and extensive treatment will be needed over the coming years to rebuild his legs.
Mark said: “I am determined that one day I will be able to walk again, although I have been warned it will most probably take years. And I want to get back on my motorbike again. That probably sounds ridiculous, but I loved everything about being on my bike. The biking community have been such a huge support since my accident that I would love to be able to rejoin them.”
Paramedic Andy Dalton, part of the GNAAS crew – who attended the incident alongside doctor Rob Anderson – said: “We are pleased to hear that Mark is doing well and wish him all the best for the future. We’d also like to congratulate him and his family on their new arrival.”
The Great North Air Ambulance Service is entirely charitably funded. It needs to raise £4m a year to continue its work, all of which is raised through public generosity. To donate, or to find out more, visit their website or call 01325-487263.
To donate to GNAAS via the Just Giving page set up by motorcyclists in appreciation of the help the charity gave to Mark Delf, visit here.