The family of a man seriously injured in a crash are waiting for him to wake from a coma as he fights for his life in hospital.
Rob Turner, 39, was a passenger in a Renault Traffic van as it drove between Synod Inn and Llanarth in Ceredigion on Monday, May 3. At around 5.30pm, the vehicle, being driven by his friend, crashed off the road and into a tree.
Both sustained serious injuries, but Rob was thrown from the van and was airlifted to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff and placed into an induced coma. He suffered a broken neck, cracked skull, a smashed jaw and swelling on his brain.
For his family, the hours immediately after the crash were some of the worst of their lives, as they were told to fear for the worst. Rob's younger brother Sean, 36, said he didn’t quite realise how bad things were to start with, but was soon told that he needed to leave his home in Ceredigion to get to Cardiff as quickly as he could.
“I have some friends in the fire service and they called on Monday evening to say that Rob had been involved in a crash,” said Sean.
“I asked if he was alright, and they were very professional about it. His skull was damaged and he had a huge open gash on his cheek. I then asked them straight if we needed to get to Cardiff and they said ‘yes’. It was then that I thought he was going to die. My friend in the fire service said he has never seen anyone survive after a crash like that.”
After contemplating the unthinkable during the first couple of days after the crash, Sean said the hope is that Rob will wake up soon, with hospital staff encouraged by his progress.
Rob has been in an induced coma since Monday night, and remains under sedation, the level of which has been reduced in the past 24 hours or so. With the ongoing coronavirus situation in Wales, hospitals are still very different places to what they were before March 2020, and that means Sean and his mother could not stay on the intensive care ward for an unlimited amount of time.
“I called other members of the family on Monday night to tell them that they needed to get to Cardiff as soon as possible," said Sean. "I was able to see Rob with our mum and we stayed in a hotel in Cardiff overnight, but we mostly sat in the car park outside the hospital, getting hourly updates from nurses.
“Thankfully Rob is fighting on and it now looks like he is going to survive, but it’s just a case of what his recovery will be like. A doctor has told us that he is past the stage where he could go into cardiac arrest, but his injuries are significant. He has broken his neck, but they’ve said that hopefully, as far as neck breaks go, it’s not that bad and it’s a break that can heal.
“He’s also broken his jaw in five places and has already undergone surgery.
“Things have got better and better since that initial first couple of days, but the main concern now is his brain. They want to do an MRI scan but they can’t at the moment due to a bolt in his head which is monitoring the pressure on his brain. But when he wakes up they can start to assess his situation, and his recovery will depend on that. We just have to wait and see how he is when he wakes up, but they have told us that he won’t recover 100%.”
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For now, the agonising wait goes on for Sean, along with his parents, his sisters, and Rob’s girlfriend and friends.
“Most of the family is in a pretty bad way to be honest, fearing the worst and spending every waking moment thinking about Rob,” he said.
"Because he is still in the intensive care unit we can’t go back to see him currently. He is still on life support and we will only get called in if things get really bad. We can’t be 100% sure but we're pretty hopeful that he is not going to die.
“As soon as we can we will all go back up to Cardiff to see him. The nurses have said that as soon as he wakes up they will call us. That moment will be such a massive relief and a big stepping stone for us. Hopefully I can get a call soon and I can speak to my brother.”