Lewis Godfrey: 'Without them I wouldn't be here today'
EVERY time Lewis Godfrey looks at himself in the mirror, he feels as though he has cheated death.
What happened to the 23-year-old has been described as a "modern-day miracle".
On June 2, after a night out with friends, he fell under a moving 15-tonne lorry.
His body wrapped around the vehicle's rear tyres, breaking his ankle and shattering his pelvis.
The driver of the lorry was unaware he'd even hit anyone, and continued to drive, while Lewis's internal organs were torn out and strewn across the road.
The first medic to arrive at the scene said that when he examined Lewis, he was technically dead as his heart had stopped.
"He had already died at the scene. When I got there, I saw the most horrific injuries – he had been ripped open," said Dr Nicholas Foster, a GP from Kegworth who was working that night as a volunteer alongside paramedics. "The level of trauma was so massive he shouldn't have made it.
"I knew I had to stop the bleeding, so we put him back together and wrapped him up to keep him in one piece."
Although the accident happened in Loughborough, Lewis was taken to the Queen's Medical Centre under the hospital's new remit as a major trauma centre for the East Midlands.
The new centre at the hospital opened in April and the most seriously injured patients from across the region will, from now on, be brought to Nottingham, where they will be seen by dedicated teams of specialists.
Medics at the hospital estimate that the new centre will save around 60 lives a year – and Lewis is one of them.
On the way to the hospital his heart stopped twice, and during surgery he suffered two massive cardiac arrests because of the extensive blood loss.
Doctors and nurses were on the verge of pronouncing him dead and his family had been told to expect the worst.
Lewis, of Kings Avenue, Loughborough, said: "It has taken a while for everything to sink in. Sometimes I can't believe I'm here."
Part of the reason Lewis was brought to Nottingham is because the new trauma centre offers specialist care in a number of different areas all under one roof.
Lewis needed to have neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, plastic surgery as well as general surgery – all of which the hospital specialises in.
On the night he was admitted to the QMC he was operated on by surgeon, Mr Daren Forward.
Mr Forward said: "When he came in it was clear he'd been crushed under a lorry. He had a bleed in his head, with a substantial head injury.
"The skin had essentially been ripped off his body in a band about a foot wide. His bowel had been damaged and his bladder ripped off."
Lewis's dad, Graham Godfrey, 48, said: "We were allowed to see Lewis very briefly. The trauma team stood back, they draped a sheet over him and I just held his hand for a bit, and whispered in his ear to keep fighting.
"I counted at least 12 tubes in him, and he had a huge bandage on his head for the swelling."
After the initial life-saving surgery, Lewis remained in a hospital bed for eight-and-a-half weeks without moving.
And today, the Virgin Media Services technician bears the scars of that fateful day. He had to have part of his skull removed during one operation.
"I was very self-conscious about it, and it meant I had to wear a cap all the time," he said.
But his recovery has, according to Mr Forward, been remarkable.
He was told he'd never walk again – he has. And his parents were told his brain might be damaged because his heart stopped for so long – it isn't.
Lewis said: "It has taken a while to get my head around. I don't remember anything from when I was in intensive care. When I started to get a bit better my dad would come and see me and every day he would tell me a little piece of information about what happened to me. It's quite overwhelming."
Last week Lewis, who has been in a relationship with his girlfriend for the past four-and-a-half years, went on the operating table once more to have a titanium plate put into his head to give it a more rounded appearance.
His father said: "We owe so much to that hospital – the fact he is here at all after what he's been through is a modern-day miracle."
Since the new centre opened, the hospital has seen 215 major trauma patients. It expects to see 500 such patients a year, although this will increase to 900 by 2015.
Two men have been charged with grievous bodily harm and one man with affray in connection with the incident which ended with Mr Godfrey sustaining his injuries. They are due to appear at Leicester Crown Court on December 5.
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