Tuesday, 6 August 2019, 1:20 pm
A pole went through my brain and somehow – I survived
At 17 years of age, Liam was like any other teenager who loved surfing, rugby and hanging with his friends. In early 2013, Liam attended his good friend Harry’s birthday party, unknown to Liam, tragic events awaited him which would change the course of his life.
While enjoying the party in Forestville in Sydney’s northern suburbs, gate crashers arrived at the party who were ushered away. Two of the gate crashers scaled the fence, climbing onto the roof of the shed and with an angry look on one of the gate crashers face, he grabbed some of the building materials and started throwing them into the crowd of the party. Unfortunately, a steel pole was thrown straight into the crowd and landed directly into Liam’s skull.
Liam woke to his family sitting next to him in his hospital bed and being hooked up to every hospital machine imaginable. Little did Liam know; he had just woken from a 12-day coma.
The three-metre pole which weighed 2.5 kg had impaled Liam straight through his skull. High risk surgery was performed to remove the pole from Liam’s skull and brain. Surgeon Dr Adam Fowler spent five hours removing the pole from Liam’s brain and flushing out the bacteria and flecks of rust.
Luckily for Liam, the pole missed the key parts of his brain, however damaged areas controlling his movement.
“Trying to lift my head, I barely moved an inch before flopping down in frustration. My lack of cognitive ability also badly slurred my speech”, said Liam.
Liam found his new reality challenging, he had gone from an active, fit teenager to someone who couldn’t even get out of bed.
Is this my life now? I wish I’d never woken up, were Liam’s initial thoughts. Liam had strong family support with his brothers visiting him every day. After Liam medically stabilised, he was transferred to Royal Rehab’s Brain Injury Unit for rehabilitation.
“At rehab, I gradually got back on my feet. At first, putting one foot in front of the other seemed impossible – but in days I was walking again.”
Liam spent three months at Royal Rehab, participating in an intensive rehab program. Liam was treated by a multidisciplinary team of health professionals and would be in the gym for at least 3-4 hours a day along with his occupational therapist. He also participated in surfing with his recreational therapist and worked hard on improving his speech with the speech therapist.
“I would have my ups and downs but without the staff pushing me through it and my family and friends keeping me in check I wouldn’t be in the position I am in now.”
After five months in hospital, Liam was finally allowed home. Liam now required anti-seizure medication and used a walking stick to walk.
Liam managed to return to high school and successfully completed his HSC. Liam set up a charity, the White Knight Foundation to support other young victims of senseless violent crimes.
In 2014, Liam’s aggressor was found guilty of assault causing grievous bodily harm with intent and was sentenced to a minimum eight years in jail.
Through the White Knight Foundation, Liam has donated over $150,000 to help young people in their recovery. The White Knight foundation generously paid for Royal Rehab’s outdoor gym equipment, to assist others in their rehabilitation journey.
Six and a half years later, Liam is has now completed his studies and working as an insurance broker. He still has physio and OT sessions and attends the gym regularly. His friends and family are still by his side and Liam looks forward to pursuing whatever makes him happy and getting the most out of life.