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Edinburgh Live
Edinburgh Live
Kris Gourlay

Young East Lothian man tells of moment life changed forever after he was hit by van

A young East Lothian man who defied the odds after being hit by a van a decade ago told how he made a miracle recovery.

Harry Davies, 21, was just 11-years-old when he was struck by a van as he cycled home from school near Haddington and only survived due to the helmet he was wearing.

He suffered a serious brain injury and was in a coma for two weeks but now works as a barista in a coffee shop and has an independent life.

READ MORE: Tributes to much-loved East Lothian dad who was pillar of community

Harry felt he was treated delicately by his peers as a teenager but the only impact now is he sometimes forgets what he needs when going to the supermarket and TV subtitles help him concentrate while watching a show.

Harry said: "Life is already delicate so there's no point in wasting time being scared of the life you have when you could be enjoying it instead. My friends, school and people outside my family were very delicate with me for a long time during my teenage years.

"I had to tell them 'Look, I'm fine - you don't need to hover around me like I'm made of glass.'

"Some people thought I was more outgoing as a child before the accident and then after I was more withdrawn - but it's impossible to say if that was because of the crash or because it was normal teenage angst."

On June 3 2013 Harry was cycling home from Pencaitland Primary School on the B6363 near Haddington, East Lothian when he was a struck by a delivery van.

Harry is now enjoying an independent life and is a keen musician. (SWNS)

When paramedics arrived they found the schoolboy to be unresponsive and he was raced to the Royal Hospital for Sick Kids in Edinburgh.

Harry underwent emergency surgery to tackle a bleed on the brain and surgeons also fitted a special bolt designed to relieve the pressure inside his skull. He was then placed in a coma and woke up two weeks later on Father's Day.

The driver of the van was convicted under S1A of the Road Traffic Act at a hearing in Edinburgh Sheriff Court on March 5 2015.

Harry said: "I didn't really understand the severity of everything until a few months after I woke from the coma when the specialists told me there was a real chance I could have died.

"The odds were something like a 75 per cent chance of dying - talking about that now feels weird when I think about how well my recovery has been.

"I play guitar and drums and I've always loved that but it's in music production where I hope to progress and something I'd very much like to get serious about.

Harry has been left with a sizeable scar on his head after suffering a bleed on his brain. (SWNS)

"It provides a great creative outlet for me, a bit therapeutic as well, but it's definitely more than a hobby and I'm already creating music and hope to build more projects there."

Harry's dad, Nick, recalled the moment he first saw his son in hospital, saying: "It's only in the past couple of years I've been table to talk about this without crying.

"When I first saw Harry he was wired up to machines and monitors it was just shocking. There were times we did wonder if the Harry we have now is the Harry he was always meant to be even without the crash?

"The way Harry recovered has been incredible and we are under no illusion with the luck we have - he was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash so when we think about how much that helped as well it should offer an important reminder.

"Even the crash - Harry was hit on a rural road yet received immediate help from an off-duty firefighter who happened to be passing and it turned out that firefighter just had head injury refresher training the week before."

At the time, Harry's physical recovery was described by rehab staff as "remarkable" but he noticed that during his teenage years he was treated differently.

School staff insisted a minder walk with him in corridors and he was not allowed to participate in sports or PE on the advice of medical staff. But Harry said brain injury survivors should not be stigmatised.

Harry said: ""I'm 6'5" with a scar on the side of my head so I inevitably get questions from people - so telling new people the story of my accident is the only time I feel like I stop being 'Harry' and I'm forced to be 'Harry the brain injury victim'.

"But each survivor is unique and each has their own story so it's okay to ask survivors if they need help but ask them what they need, respect their answer and let them live their life."

Dad Nick added: "The most important thing we can all do for brain injury survivors is to not impose restrictions on them.

"Don't tell them what they should or shouldn't do unless there's genuine medical reasons.

"If you teach people how to be their own person, how to graft and how to not be a victim then everyone has the capacity to crack on and thrive."


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