AN Omagh man involved in an horrific machinery accident was so badly injured that he had to be cut free from the car which took him to hospital.
Details of the ordeal suffered by Alan Donnell in October 2018, were shared by his wife Julie, as she praised the medics from the Air Ambulance NI and for whom, the family has raised £3,500.
The injuries sustained by Alan has meant he has had to learn to walk and drive again, as well as coming to terms with brain damage.
Just half an hour into his day’s work as a welder, Alan was crushed by a ‘grader blade’ of a digger at the waist and was immediately carried into a car and rushed to the hospital in Omagh.
“It was uncanny as I was actually at the hospital when I took the call, awaiting a physio appointment. Before I saw Alan, a nurse told me to prepare myself and that I wouldn’t like what I was about to see but it was imperative to keep calm,” said Julie.
The trauma was compounded when Alan became trapped in the car outside the hospital and had to be cut out by the NI Fire and Rescue Service and then rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast by the Air Ambulance.
“The Air Ambulance NI brought such a level of speed, efficiency and professionalism. I remember one of the team saying, in 23 minutes we’ll have Alan to surgery. And indeed, by the time I saw the kids to tell them and drove to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, Alan had his first surgery completed.”
Alan suffered four fractures in his pelvis, four open fractures in his legs and his ankle was crushed. A second surgery in hospital took over eight hours to insert titanium rods into both his legs.
Julie said Alan spent five and a half weeks in hospital before rehabilitation at home.
She continued, “That was six hours-a-day and at times was very hard, but we were determined, and Alan has made great progress. He is now able to walk mostly unaided around the house and is back driving. We are receiving continuing support for Alan’s brain condition but are learning to adapt to our new normal.
“My four children kept me going and even though the accident affected each one of them differently, every one of us is so grateful to the charity. We wanted to give something back so held a fundraiser last year. It was a country-themed cowboy supper and we raised £3,500. It was supported by friends of old and new and without those, the night would not have been possible.”
The family travelled to the Air Ambulance base last summer to express their thanks to the team who had helped Alan that day.
Glenn O’Rorke, who is the operational lead for the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service said, “We wish Alan a continued recovery and thank them so much for their generosity in supporting the service. It is only with continued support that we can fly and continue to help.
“The charity is offering membership of its Club AANI for just £2 per week, a means of regular giving by direct debit at www.airambulanceni.org.”