Leeds surgeon's pride as his charity supporting survivors of major traumatic injuries goes UK-wide
A Leeds surgeon has spoken of his pride as the charity he founded in the city’s hospitals to support survivors of major traumatic injuries is set to be expanded across the UK.
It was witnessing the distress of patients on his ward rounds at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust's major trauma centre that leading orthopaedic surgeon Professor Peter Giannoudis decided something must be done to help them cope with the devastating aftermath of their life-changing injuries, from traumas such as car accidents, sporting accidents, gunshots, stabbings or falls from heights.
He founded Day One Trauma Support in 2014 to offer not just practical and emotional support to these survivors but also crucial financial and legal help, when their catastrophic injuries left them unable to work - at least in the short-term - and were often from accidents which were not their fault.
The charity has gone to support more than 1,000 patients here in Leeds since its inception and now hopes to soon reach many more thousands after announcing its launch as the first nationwide independent charity supporting major trauma patients.
Prof Giannoudis told the YEP no other charity focuses on this group of patients - and the need is clearly there.
He said: “They suffer life-changing injuries but it’s not just the physical aspect of the degree of trauma but also the tremendous psychological trauma because suddenly everything changes - their family life, their ability to work, to enjoy life in general, to do sports.
“And going through that journey - from the scene of the accident to recovery - is a long one.”
Prof Giannoudis said many patients need multiple trips to the operating theatre to “rebuild them” and spend vast amounts of time in intensive care to support their vital organs as their bodies try to heal.
Their rehabilitation is also often complicated by infections or fractures failing to fuse so treatment can last years - with the chances of returning to work reducing as time goes on.
He said: “On my ward rounds on a morning I would see them crying or lying there not really interacting. I’d ask what was worrying them and they'd say ‘I’m worried about my wife, I don’t know what to do'.
“It became clear something had to be done for them.”
Day One offers legal expertise from its pro-bono lawyer partners as well as access to counselling for all family members, advice on welfare benefits, access to emergency funding - such as to help family stay close to the hospital in the immediate aftermath of the accident, and longer-term funding to pay for house adaptations or equipment.
It also offers a befriending service through a dedicated team of volunteer peer supporters - fellow survivors who have suffered similar accidents or injuries and can listen to patients’ anxieties and share their own experience of recovery.
Prof Giannoudis said this can often give patients vital hope for the future.
“With this support they can walk on this difficult road with a bit of optimism - and can see some light in this black hole that suddenly they are trying to get out from.”
He added: “We think we are going to live forever. We think we will never have an accident, never have an illness. This is how we start our day every morning. Then we go to work and suddenly - and it’s not your fault - you’re struggling to survive because of the severity of your injuries you sustained in an accident.”
Day One’s aim is to extend into all the 27 major trauma centres across the country to ensure no-one is left to cope with the impact of traumatic injuries alone and first to adopt its invaluable services is Aintree Major Trauma Centre at the Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Prof Giannoudis told the Yorkshire Evening Post the roll-out was made possible thanks to a generous donation from the US-based Wyss Foundation, set up by the Swiss philanthropist Hansjörg Wyss.
He said he was “very proud” of how far the charity has come but stressed it has been a collective effort of all involved.
“We should be proud - the whole nation should be proud - that we have developed something that is supporting our NHS services.
“This expansion means not only are we supporting individuals but to some extent giving a voice to advocate for those affected by major trauma.
“We would like to help push or standardise pathways of high quality care that is available to everyone no matter where the individual lives or were injured.”
He added: “We know it works. We know we can improve the lives of those in recovery.”
Next month, to celebrate the charity’s national roll-out and launch in Liverpool, a ‘75 mile’ fundraiser will take place - to mark the distance between Leeds and Aintree University Hospital.
So far more than 100 people have signed up to cover 75 miles each - in any way - to boost the coffers of Day One Trauma Support.
Among those taking part will be 40 medics from the two hospitals, including surgeons, physiotherapists and nurses who, on July 31, will cover the distance along the canal between Leeds and Liverpool as two competing relay teams.
Also more than 20 lawyers from firms Leigh Day, Sintons and Irwin Mitchell - members of the charity’s legal panel - will join forces with counterparts from competitor firms to help raise money for the cause.
A spokesperson for the Day One legal panel said: “This isn’t just another charity fundraiser for us.
“We work closely with people affected by personal injuries in our professional lives and we’ve seen the crucial difference Day One’s support makes.
“This is a chance for us legal professionals to come together and go one step further in helping current and prospective Day One patients get the support they so badly need.”
Lucy Nickson, CEO of Day One Trauma Support, said: “We are so grateful to everyone who has taken up the 75 Miles in July challenge to help us provide more trauma support.
“This is a chance for us all to stand together with those recovering from their injuries that test their physical limits every day , and push our bodies a little harder to raise vital funds on their behalf.
“We believe a supported recovery should not come down to luck or post code. With the help of this fundraiser we’re taking a step closer to making that a reality.”
For more information on Day One visit www.dayonetrauma.org.
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