Administering blood alongside medical interventions early on, just minutes after the crash, gave Harry the best possible chance of surviving.
On Thursday 19 November Harry Fisher was travelling along the A140 on his motorbike on his way to Norwich City College, where he was learning to be an electrician, when he was involved in a near-fatal collision with a van. The accident happened in Newton Flotman at around 8:50am in the morning.
Harry was overtaking as the van turned into a layby, meaning Harry collided with the side of the van at speed. Harry travelled seven metres from the site of the crash and his bike ended up in a hedge. His injuries were critical, so a team from the East Anglian Air Ambulance was called to his side. The team reached the scene thirteen minutes after being tasked from Norwich Airport, where EAAA is based, following a six-minute flight.
“I’ve been working in pre-hospital medicine for a number of years, but this was one of the worst cases I have ever seen. ”
The doctor and critical care paramedic team that arrived weren’t sure if Harry would make it to hospital due to the extent of his injuries, specifically the amount of blood he was losing and that both of his lungs had collapsed. Neurological signs also indicated a bleed on the brain.
Dr Jeremy Mauger said: “I honestly didn’t think Harry would make it to hospital that day, let alone recover as well as he has done. Our job was to work with the land ambulance teams already on scene to stabilise Harry as much as possible and get him to the nearest hospital as quickly and safely as we could. The medical interventions Harry needed were very advanced given his terrible injuries. I’m amazed and incredibly pleased at his progress."
One of the treatments implemented to stabilise Harry was an immediate blood and plasma transfusion at the site of the crash. In normal circumstances someone in Harry’s condition would be flown to the major trauma centre at Addenbrooke’s, however Harry was not stable enough to travel that far.
Our clinicians have seen first-hand during life-threatening accidents and incidents that administering blood improves patient outcomes. Our aim is to now permanently carry blood to treat our most gravely injured patients and help save more lives.
EAAA needs to raise over £80,000 in order to routinely carry blood in the future, to help more patients like Harry. Any donation that you can spare, large or small, will support this appeal.
(Above image - EAAA simulating a transfusion with lyoplas, freeze-dried plasma which promotes clotting)
The blood transfusion alongside multiple other critical care interventions, such as a thoracostomy, to decompress his lung, and administering an emergency anaesthetic to allow the team to take control of his breathing at the roadside, enabled Jeremy and Critical Care Paramedic Nigel Strange to get Harry to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, by land ambulance. These actions taken early on, just minutes after the crash, gave Harry the best possible chance of surviving. The EAAA team got Harry to hospital in just over an hour of the crash taking place.
In Harry’s case, given the amount of blood he had lost, without a blood transfusion his odds of surviving to hospital would have been significantly reduced. The blood Harry received was part of a national trial which has now come to an end.
Catherine, Harry's mum, said: We’re just so grateful that Harry got the treatment he needed to get him to hospital. That was the first major hurdle to overcome. It’s been an incredibly long recovery for Harry and he still has a long way to go but we are getting there. All those weeks he was in a coma were simply unbearable, but he had a fighting chance and has been fighting all the way."
“We will be eternally grateful to the air ambulance team who quite literally saved his life and got him to hospital. We believe their skill and the blood transfusion they could provide at the scene made a huge difference to Harry’s chances and I urge you to support their appeal to carry blood permanently so they will have the blood they need to help more people like Harry.””
In total, Harry’s injuries included: two collapsed lungs, permanent damage to his left lung, a fractured pelvis, two broken front ribs on his left and four broken back ribs on his left, broken left collar bone, broken left shoulder blade, broken coccyx and vertebrae and a bleed on his brain. He was in a coma on neuro critical care in Addebroooke’s hospital for five weeks while his injuries healed. He returned home seven weeks to the date of his accident, having spent Christmas in hospital. He also damaged part of his heart and now has trouble regulating his heartbeat.
He lost 10 – 15 kilos in weight while he was in a coma and has been building up his physio and body mass ever since. He has no memory of the accident and has suffered some short-term memory loss since, but has made remarkable progress in a short amout of time.
Since the accident the EAAA Aftercare Team arranged a virtual meeting between Harry and the crew who attended Harry. During the visit Harry said: “Listening to them saying what they had to do to me before I could be taken to hospital was unbelievable.”
Harry’s mum and dad added: “Having the opportunity to see Jeremy and Nigel on the call and find out exactly what they did for Harry was surreal, the people who saved our youngest son. It was very emotional and filled us with gratitude for the East Anglian Air Ambulance.”