Northern Ireland news

Family of Co Tyrone schoolgirl injured in motorbike crash praise efforts of NI Air Ambulance

Anna Neville with her mother Grace and brothers Benjamin (10) and David (9)

THE family of a Co Tyrone schoolgirl who were told she may never walk or talk after a serious motorbike crash, have praised the efforts of the Air Ambulance who came to her aid.

Anna Neville's parents have spoken of the life-changing experience their daughter endured and how they are indebted to the work of the helicopter team.

"Without this life-saving service, the outcome for Anna would have been very different," her mother Grace said.

The 12-year-old from Cookstown was enjoying a birthday treat at Magilligan Moto X track near Limavady last October when she fell off a motorbike as she completed laps against her two younger brothers.

Suffering a seizure, as her father Andrew ran to help and removed her helmet, blood was coming from her ears, nose and mouth. Her eyes were rolling uncontrollably and her breathing was very laboured.

A Northern Ireland Ambulance Service road crew arrived followed by the charity Air Ambulance NI helicopter, bringing the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) team.

"I remember looking up and seeing the helicopter hovering above us in the sky and then seconds later two men in red running towards Anna," she said.

"The Air Ambulance NI team brought complete calmness and professionalism to the chaotic scenes we were facing and they worked on Anna for over 45 minutes."

In pain and drifting in and out of consciousness, the HEMS team put her into a medically induced coma at the scene to prevent further damage to her brain and she was flown to the Royal Belfast Hospital, Belfast in less than 30 minutes, compared to a road journey time of 90 minutes.

Initial assessments were not positive - every part of Anna's brain had received a trauma injury and for three days she was not expected to live.

She had suffered a fractured skull, multiple bleeds on the brain, a collapsed lung, detached retina and damage to her hearing as well as multiple fractures.

Over the next fortnight Anna went through a stage of high agitation as her brain was effectively resetting itself, but on December 8 medics began to see progress.

"The doctors were beginning to see signs that Anna might actually live although they said it would be unlikely if she would ever walk and talk again," said Ms Neville.

"We just wanted her to live and asked all our family and friends to pray for a miracle."

Anna continued to defy the odds and was allowed home in February.

"She is very much still on the road to recovery however - her short term memory and processing skills are still improving and she has lost her hearing in one ear but without the work of the entire Air Ambulance NI team, it could have been so much worse," said Ms Neville.

Her family say they will be "forever thankful" to the Air Ambulance team.

"The expertise, professionalism and compassion of the entire Air Ambulance NI team is outstanding, they hold a very special place in our hearts," she said.

"We would ask everyone to consider supporting the amazing work this charity provides."

Damien McAnespie from the Air Ambulance charity, said: "Anna's story is testament to how the work of the entire Air Ambulance NI team and the doctors and nurses in the hospital can make a difference, even when the odds are stacked against you".

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