A 10-year-old girl who was left fighting to stay alive after being hit by a car has had the perfect Christmas gift ... a second chance at life.
This week, 15 months on from the horrific incident and thanks to the crucial work of specialist air ambulance staff at the time, little Abaigh O’Gallagher has made a full recovery when doctors did not think she would survive.
At 5pm on September 12 last year, Abaigh – who was just nine at the time – was out playing football in a park in Hemel Hempstead, when the ball rolled out into the road.
When Abaigh ran out to fetch the football, she was hit by a car and left with severe, life threatening head and body injuries.
Her father Patrick is still haunted by the harrowing phone call that followed.
“I remember rushing to the scene of Abaigh’s incident,” he said.
“I kept telling myself she was going to be ok. When I got there the area was cordoned off, there were lots of emergency vehicles and people surrounding the perimeter.
“I ran to where Abaigh was lying. She looked so poorly, I held her hand and reassured her that everything was going to be alright.”
But others at the scene did not share Patrick’s faith.
“I can remember everyone saying it didn’t look good and feeling scared to the core,” he said.
“The first I can recall about feeling better was when I was told specialist A&E care was on its way by helicopter.”
That specialist team were the ones who ultimately saved Abaigh’s young life. The Magpas Helimedix team – one of the leading providers of trauma care in the UK – arrived, much to Patrick’s relief.
Patrick said: “Even though the ambulance service paramedics had done a really amazing job, Abaigh clearly had suffered serious, traumatic injuries and needed help.
“She was in a bad way, she looked physically very distressed.
“I her eyes rolling, but she showed real determination.
“She was fighting for her life.”
Magpas quickly gave Abaigh enhanced medical attention as well as taking control of the scene. Magpas is made up of some of the UK’s expert medics, many of whom volunteer their own time to be trained as members of the Helimedix team, to provide frontline medical care free of charge.
The charity receives no Government or National Lottery funding and relies solely on donations.
Patrick said the moments when the Magpas Helimedix team arrived were crucial to saving not only his daughter’s life, but also her quality of life.
“I for one felt better for them being there,” he said.”
“They clearly had a plan. They anaesthetised Abaigh and put her in a medically induced coma to reduce the impact of her injuries.
“They ultimately gave her treatment which I believe saved her life, before flying her to Addenbrooke’s Hospital.”
After she was awakened from her coma, Abaigh had to learn how to walk, talk and function properly again.
Now as the family prepare for Christmas almost 15 months to the day of the accident, the incredible 10 year old has fully and somewhat miraculously recovered.
The family, who have released a series of camera phone pictures to the Gazette to show just how far Abaigh has come, say they will be enternally grateful to the medics.
Patrick said: “Had Magpas not been available at the time of Abaigh’s accident, I dread to think of the outcome.
“The Magpas Helimedix literally brought a trauma centre to Abaigh and saved her life. I’ll think of Magpas when Abaigh rides her scooter or plays in the park as her recovery was only made possible by what they did that day.
“They gave her the foundation and the opportunity to fight and recover.”
Earlier this month Abaigh met the people who saved her life, as she geared up to celebrate her first proper Christmas with her family since the horrific accident.
She visited the Magpas Helimedix operations base in Huntingdon with her dad, who is also in training for an extreme bike riding challenge to raise money for team and the Sick Children Trust.
Abaigh’s mother Cassie, her teenage sister Leanne and Patrick’s cycle challenge training partner all joined her for the visit where she met Magpas Helimedix doctor Tom Odbert and enhanced paramedic Sally Boor for the first time since the accident.
She still can’t remember anything about that day, so cannot remember anything at all about them.
A spokesman for Magpas said: “It was a very emotional day for us all.”
Magpas The Emergency Medical Charity relies wholly on generous donations from the public. You can find out more online at www.magpas.org.uk