Harry and Sophie’s story

Harry and Sophie’s story

Image above: Harry and his girlfriend, Katie

A near-fatal fall

Harry, 25, from Brighton, was on a night out with friends in Hastings in July 2014 when he fell from a tree and hit the ground head first. When paramedics arrived at the scene it was clear that his injuries were critical, so he was rushed to King’s College Hospital in an air ambulance.

On his arrival at the hospital, Harry immediately had emergency brain surgery, which was performed by Professor Keyoumars Ashkan, who is Consultant Neurosurgeon at King’s.

Describing Harry’s injuries, Professor Ashkan said: “When he arrived at King’s, Harry was suffering from a severe head injury. A blood clot had to be removed following extensive bleeding within the skull, and part of his skull bone was also removed to control the pressure that resulted from the swelling of his brain. There is no doubt that for injuries like this, the quicker the patient can be operated on, the stronger their chance of survival.”

Receiving critical care

Harry spent a total of three weeks at King’s, including 10 days when he was in an induced coma, and is now having treatment at a specialist rehabilitation centre near Horsham.

He still has difficulties with his speech and movement as a result of neurological damage that he sustained from the accident, but has made significant progress in his recovery following a programme of extensive rehabilitation. It is hoped that in time he will be able to resume the life he led before the fall.

Harry’s sister, Sophie Holmes-Elliot, remembers that while visiting her brother at King’s, she and her family would often visit nearby Ruskin Park. On one occasion, Sophie witnessed a helicopter land in the park, whereupon medical staff transported a patient to the hospital – exactly as they had done with her brother.

Saving time and saving lives

“Seeing everything that is involved in getting the patient from the air ambulance to the Emergency Department made me appreciate just how important it is to have a helipad at King’s. The time that will be saved is so precious, and it’s clear to see what a big difference it will make to patients who have suffered the sorts of injuries that Harry did,” Sophie says.

Sophie’s revelation inspired her to organise a fundraising gig for the King’s Helipad Appeal. Her brother’s attendance was another milestone in his recovery. Many of Harry’s friends performed in the bands on the set list – as they weren’t able to visit him in hospital in London, they were especially keen to show their support by doing something positive.

The night was a huge success, attended by over 100 people and raising £1,000 for the helipad appeal.

“The gig was a great way to celebrate Harry’s recovery, as well as raise money for such a vital cause”, said Sophie.

 We are very grateful to supporters like Sophie who have helped make our helipad a reality, and able to save the lives of more people like Harry.

Image below: Harry and his friends at the fundraising gig