A South Shields motorcyclist’s life was changed forever when a car ran over his body moments after he was knocked off his bike.
Mark McCourt only had seconds to react when he was in a collision with a car as he rode along a country lane near Middleton-in-Teesdale, County Durham, in April last year. The 39-year-old said he tried to steer around the car, but they collided, throwing him off his bike, over the bonnet, and skidding along the road.
As Mark lay conscious face down on the road, the car continued to move in his direction and ran over his midriff, crushing his pelvic area and the force flipping him onto his back.
“I was riding along and could see a white car at a junction ahead of me,” Mark said.
“I could suddenly see it started moving out. All I was thinking was please don’t hit me.
“I had about 15 metres to react. The front of the car hit the bike, I hit the bonnet and continued moving down the road.
“I felt the hard hit on my left side and was awake when the front and rear left wheels of the car rolled over my pelvis. I don’t think the driver realised they had run over me and thought I was where my bike was.
“I was shouting in pain and tried to get up but couldn’t move.”
Mark was airlifted to the Major Trauma Centre at The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, where specialist medical staff operated on him. He had broken his pelvis, left leg, knee, ribs and fractured vertebrate, as well as damaged internal organs, including his urethra, which is the tube that allows urine to pass out of the body.
The former marine engineer had multiple operations, including emergency surgery two days into his hospital stay when his chest and neck swelled up, causing him difficulty breathing.
Mark was left temporarily paralysed by the incident and left the hospital after nearly four weeks, once he could sit out of bed. He had to stay in a medical bed in his living room and use a wheelchair commode to go to the toilet.
Mark added: “I am so lucky that I had the support around me. My fiancée Maria was amazing as I couldn’t get out of bed on my own.
“She had to help me go to the toilet and wash. If I had been single, I would have had to live with my parents and get my mum to do this, which you don’t expect when you’re in your thirties.
“When things are taken away from you, you appreciate the little things like a shower and cleaning your own teeth.”
It took Mark 12 weeks before he was able to put weight on his feet and walk for the first time. Now, a year later, Mark has had seven operations and is receiving specialist treatment in London for his damaged bladder and urethra.
He is undergoing physio for his pelvic area and walks with a limp due to weakness in his left leg.
Mark said: “It’s been a long journey and I’m still not at the end of it yet. The infections and setbacks get you down.
“When people look at me now, compared to a year ago, they’re amazed at the progress I have made. But although the scars and bruising have gone and I’m back walking, my life still isn’t the same.
“I still have difficulty going to the toilet. I’m waiting for reconstruction work on my bladder and urethra and have nerve damage in my pelvic area.
“People also don’t see the psychological impact something like this has. I still have night terrors about it and suffered PTSD, which I sought help for.”
Mark, a former marine engineer who spent most of his life working on oil tankers, was about to start his “dream job” as an ROV pilot two days after the crash. However, due to his injuries and risk of bleeding, he’s been told he won’t be able to work at sea again.
Now, Mark has teamed up with thetrauma team who treated him at the James Cook University Hospital to launchDay One Trauma Support at James Cook, a charity supporting patients and families. Day One is providing a caseworker alongside NHS staff on the ward to support to some of the most severely injured people across the North East and their families facing physical, emotional and financial problems.
“Although what happened to me was horrendous, I was lucky to have the support of my family around me to get me through it,” Mark said.
“I had excellent care from the hospital staff, but when a major physical trauma happens to you, there are so many questions that go through your head and you don’t know where to turn. It’s fantastic that Day One is there to help people like me, and my family, navigate the system, and I can’t wait to give back and use my experience to help others across the North East.”
Lucy Nickson, CEO of Day One Trauma Support, said: “We’re thrilled to launch this partnership so we can help people like Mark get the support they so truly deserve. NHS clinical care is exceptional and has improved thanks to the work of Major Trauma Centres such as the one at James Cook.
“If you suffer a major physical trauma, you are more likely to survive your injuries, but enormous pressures on the NHS and inequities in the system mean recovery and rehabilitation support is inconsistent. That’s why Day One is becoming the ‘go to’ support for anyone affected by major trauma, as we can provide the vital practical and emotional support people need so they can rebuild their lives and look forward to the future.”