A TEENAGER who embodies the importance of supporting the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) has returned to the charity to lend a hand.
Callum Rock, 18, was not expected to survive after he plunged 70ft in a climbing accident at Highcliff Nab in Guisborough last year.
But the Middlesbrough student confounded medics with his recovery, and tomorrow (WED DECEMBER 14), will travel to Darlington to draw the winner of a car raffle run by GNAAS.
He will pick the winning ticket out of about 100,000 entries. The main prize is a Hyundai i10 car, donated by Benfield Motor Group. The draw has brought in £120,000 to GNAAS to allow the charity to continue its work.
GNAAS played a crucial role in Callum’s rescue. Working alongside the Cleveland Search and Rescue team, and local police and ambulance crews, GNAAS’ Guardian of the North helicopter arrived on scene with Callum fighting for survival.
GNAAS doctor Simon Le Clerc, an army doctor with experience working in Afghan battlefields, anaesthetised Callum at the scene before travelling with him on board the helicopter to James Cook University Hospital.
He had suffered a severe head injury and a severed artery. A team of five surgeons worked through the night in an effort to save his life, giving him ten litres of blood in the process. After 12 hours in theatre, the artery was finally repaired.
But that was just the beginning of the recovery for Callum, who spent a further nine days on a life support machine. Then came the decision his parents were dreading. He could remain on the machine no longer.
Jan Rock, Callum’s mother, said: “Doctors told us that he had to come off the machine. But amazingly, when taken off the sedation medication, very slowly, Callum began to breathe independently.
“When he opened his eyes 16 days later, he couldn’t see, hear, talk, move or swallow. He has had to learn to do everything all over again.”
Callum was expected to spend two years as an inpatient in a specialist neuro-rehabilitation centre but was discharged after ten weeks to continue his recovery at home.
Jan added: “Callum has come a long way in a very short time through his unwavering inner strength and sheer determination.
“With the love and support of his family, he has made an astonishing recovery that has exceeded everyone’s expectations.
“We are incredibly proud of all that he has achieved so far.”
Callum, who is studying AS level Chemistry and Physics at Nunthorpe School sixth form, said his new aim is to go to university, although he acknowledged the hard work still ahead.
“I still have a long way to go with my recovery, but I am working hard and delighted to be back at college,” he said.
Callum has found the time to visit Dr Le Clerc and paramedic Andy Mawson at the GNAAS base at Durham Tees Valley Airport to thank them personally for their help.
He said: “Without doubt, I would not be here today without the very special skills of the Great North Air Ambulance team, particularly Dr Simon Le Clerc who in giving me emergency medical treatment enabled me to survive long enough to be transported to hospital. I would have died without them.”
Since the incident, Callum’s family has carried out fundraising activities for GNAAS.
Tony, Callum’s dad, who is a policeman in Cleveland police, will this week donate £1,000 on behalf of the force. The money was raised through a sale of unclaimed items.
He said: “The Great North Air Ambulance Service is a very important link in a remarkable chain of events. It will continue to save the lives of others for some time to come.”
Students at Nunthorpe School have taken on GNAAS and Cleveland Search and Rescue as their charities after Callum gave a presentation about his experiences.