Woman almost cut in half on fairground ride was given 0% chance of survival
A trainee nurse who was nearly cut in half on a fairground ride now has dreams of helping other trauma patients, as she thanked the team of medics that saved her life.
Chloe Austin, 21, had a 0 percent chance of survival when she was thrown underneath the mechanism of the ride, leaving her with multiple open fractures on her right leg and pelvis in August last year.
Doctors at Royal Preston Hospital doubted she would recover from her catastrophic injuries.
But after 90 days in the major trauma centre, Chloe not only survived, she defied predictions that she would never walk again and has even returned to university to finish her nursing degree.
Chloe told The Mirror: “I always had sympathy and compassion for my patients before this happened, but to be a patient and then go back to the job I can relate to what they’re going through and how it feels.
“I was bed bound for four months and it was soul destroying so when I see patients who are bed bound for life, I had a glimpse into what that feels like.
“In the future I’d love to go into major trauma or even work at Royal Preston Hospital maybe one day.”
In July, Royal Preston Hospital marked 10 years of being a major trauma centre (MTC) for the North West.
During that decade, the hospital has seen 48 people with a 1 in 10 chance of surviving their injuries and only nine have made it back from the brink.
In 2021, Chloe was the only person with such low odds to pull through after she suffered an open book pelvic fracture – ‘the worst pelvic fracture a person can have’.
Karen Haworth, Major Trauma Service manager at Royal Preston said: “Anyone surviving that is an absolute miracle.
“Chloe had such severe injuries, they took her to Furness General Hospital and they thought she was going to die there.
“When she got to Preston she was so ill they thought she wasn’t going to survive in our emergency department.
“Day by day she has just overcome each obstacle and now she is training to be a nurse which is so overwhelming.
“I’ve been doing this job for five years and I don’t recall anything like Chloe’s story.
“If she ever wants a job at Royal Preston we will make it happen.”
Chloe, from Barrow in Furness, spent 22 days in a coma and underwent multiple life saving surgeries before a gruelling recovery in which she had to learn to walk again.
She said: “When I woke up I couldn’t remember anything, I didn’t even remember going to the fair.
“I just kept thinking I must have been in a car crash.
“When the doctors told me I would most likely never walk again it was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with.
“I became determined that that wouldn’t be me, and I kept setting little goals for myself.
“For the first time the other day I was able to run to get an emergency bell at work and that was a huge achievement for me.”
She added: “As I’ve been studying nursing more I’ve started to understand the severity of my injuries and how lucky I was to survive.
“I really can’t thank the staff at the major trauma centre enough, they were all unbelievable, from the air ambulance to the nurses in critical care, I never wanted for reassurance and support.
“Without them and my friends and family and amazing work colleagues, I don’t think I would have got through that time.”
Across the UK the NHS has 27 MTCs, which were set up to save the lives of people with the most traumatic and extreme injuries.
Head of A&E at Royal Preston Hospital, Andy Curran, was one of the first doctors in the NHS to call for the introduction of these life-saving hubs.
Dr Curran, a consultant in emergency medicine, said: “We set it up because if you were taken to a hospital without all the correct major specialities working together on one side, your chances of dying were much higher.
“My theory was we would never need to tell parents or someone that their child or loved one had died because we weren’t very organised.
He added: “One of the biggest changes when we became a MTC was having senior decision makers right at the front doors of the hospital.
“Back in the olden days people literally died overnight waiting for someone more senior to come along and make the decision to take them to theatre.”
Today, the hospital has 19 specialties in its major trauma unit, which work together to decide the best course of action to save their patients.
But the life-saving work they do starts from the moment someone is picked up by paramedics at North West Ambulance and the North West Air Ambulance services.
Their care for patients doesn’t end at the point of discharge either.
Mum of three, Liz Bamber, helped set up Headway Central Lancashire, a brain injury support charity, after her son was in a motorbike accident in 2005 which left him with traumatic head injuries.
Now Liz is the Project Manager of the charity within Preston’s MTC which has helped to support people with their finances and adjustments to life after suffering a major trauma.
She said: “Often its families tell us they couldn’t have done it without us, they’re just very grateful. It can be the tiniest thing that we have done like providing toys for their children.
“We’ve gone to other extremes like getting debts written off.
“Our team of five that work here all have family experience of a major trauma so we understand what its like.