A YOUNG Poole woman who nearly died after a horrific road collision has spoken of her brave battle to rebuild her life.
Jade Hutchings was just 18 when she was critically injured in a crash in Cranborne in September 2012 and her devastated family was told to prepare for the fact she could die.
But, despite suffering on-going symptoms of life-changing injuries, Jade has stunned her family and medical staff by making a remarkable recovery, which has even seen her return to her travel and tourism course at Bournemouth and Poole College, albeit with assistance.
Speaking to the Daily Echo on the day after her 20th birthday, Jade and her mum Julia said they wanted to give hope to other families in similar situations, to raise awareness of how difficult it is to live with a brain injury and to thank the people who helped Jade at the scene.
Jade was one of four young people travelling in a Volkswagen Polo when it ploughed into a six- foot wall lining Salisbury Street.
The three others sustained superficial injuries but Jade was airlifted to Southampton Hospital and was in a medically-induced coma for several days.
Her parents, Julia and Steve were told to prepare for the worst.
Julia, 45, said: “We were in this little room and the specialist just sat there, put his hands to his face and then looked up and said ‘All I can say is we’re trying to make Jade stable.
“I have to tell you it’s not looking good and we’re not sure what’s going to happen in the next couple of hours.”
“A few hours later the anaesthetist man came and sat next to me.
“He said ‘She’s stable but her injuries are so significant that we don’t think she’ll make it through the night.’”
Doctors warned that if Jade came out of the coma, she could be paralysed for the rest of her life.
“They said two to three times if she didn’t move we might have to make a choice,” said Julia.
“I looked at her and said I will not make a choice. I said she will make it if she’s as strong as I think she is.”
A fortnight after the collision, Jade was transferred to Poole Hospital and another fortnight later, surgeons were ready to undergo the complex facial reconstruction work Jade needed.
“She had no eye socket, it was completely smashed. Her cheekbone had smashed bones in it and her top jaw was completely broken – we were told that’s what had pierced a bit of the brain,” said Julia.
“They said they needed to make a hole in her forehead to check the membrane had not broken.
“If it had, an infection could get in and Jade could die. I walked out and said to Steve ‘I can’t sign my daughter’s life away, I can’t do that.’ I said he would have to sign it because I couldn’t physically do it.”
The operation took six hours but surgeons achieved incredible results. Jade was allowed to return home on January 17 2013, almost four months after the collision.
The past year has been full of emotional ups and downs for Jade, her parents and her 22- year-old-brother Shayne as Jade struggles with ongoing memory loss and angry mood swings.
She has also completely lost her sense of taste and smell.
“I feel privileged to still be here, I just miss my old life,” she said.
“I miss my memory, remembering what things are and what I’m doing, what I like and what I don’t like.
“I want to smell flowers, you want to smell nice things and you just smell air. That’s all you can smell.
“And I hate not being able to remember stuff, I know it’s in there, I just can’t remember it.”
She said she would like to raise awareness of brain injuries and the support needed for sufferers.
“A brain injury isn’t a visible injury; you can’t see what’s wrong with us.
“Cancer you know about but a brain injury can kill you and can also change the person. You have to learn to live with yourself for the rest of your life.
“People don’t get taught about brain injury as much as you do cancer or heart attacks.”
Support workers now assist Jade as she continues her studies at Bournemouth College and she sees a psychologist once a week.
Her mum said she hoped others would take inspiration from Jade’s recovery.
“My advice would be look for that glimmer and hold onto that glimmer and treat every day as part of a process.
“Just take every day as it comes and once you have that glimmer of hope just hold onto it, there will be others that follow.”
Family offers thanks for all who gave their support
JADE and her family said they would like to thank all their family and friends who had supported them, including Brian and Maggie, and they are keen to get in touch with the many people who helped Jade in the aftermath of the collision.
In particular, the family would like to meet and thank the two people on the street who saw the crash and gave a report to the police, the paramedics, the Cranborne residents who assisted, the fire brigade and the air ambulance crew.
Anyone who was involved in the events can contact Julia by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Julia also wants to thank her employers LV, particularly Georgia Shire and Max Clark, who allowed her to take as much time off as she needed and were incredibly supportive, and her parents, mother-in-law and other friends and family for all their help.
They are also grateful to all the staff at Southampton General Hospital who helped save Jade’s life.