Reunion at last with ‘the woman who saved my life’

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A man who was paralysed from the chest down in a horrific motorbike accident got to meet and say thank you to the woman who saved his life 20 years ago.

Luke Delahunty, who lives in Stoke Mandeville, was close to death after being trapped under a tractor trailer in the horror smash in 1996.

First on the scene was then St John Ambulance Service volunteer Karen Davis, who provided first aid for 20 gruelling minutes until an ambulance arrived.

Karen did visit Luke in hospital in the weeks after his accident, but he has little recollection of this. So, on the 20th anniversary of the life-changing event he tracked her down to say thank you in person.

Luke, who works at the Stoke Mandeville Spinal Injuries Centre as a patient education co-ordinator, said: “Before I met with Karen I went on Facebook and asked my friends what my being here had meant to them, then I asked them to write a message to Karen. The response was great and I showed her them all.

“We also visited the scene of the crash. I’ve been up and down the road before but I’ve never known exactly what had happened. I wanted to find out a bit more about it, and she was happy to answer all of my questions.

“She was really modest about it all. I’ve always said that she saved my life, but she said ‘no, it was a team effort’, but the ambulance took 20 minutes to arrive at the scene. I was very close to death – they didn’t think that I was going to make it through the night.”

Following his accident Luke went through rehabilitation at the Stoke Mandeville Spinal Injuries Centre, and now leads a happy life.

He was able to compete in last year’s Invictus Games in hand cycling and rowing events, and also plays wheelchair rugby. Following his injuries he has also achieved a lifelong ambition to learn how to scuba dive.

And on September 2 Luke will have the honour of a being a Paralympic torch bearer at the Vale Park Bucks Legacy celebrations, which have been organised in conjunction with the flame lighting ceremony at Stoke Mandeville Stadium.

He said: “When the flame comes from the stadium it will come down into Aylesbury and be passed around the park. I will be the last person to receive it and will address the crowd, before setting of the fireworks. It’s going to be amazing, and would never be happening if it wasn’t for Karen.”

l Find out more about Paralympic events on September 2 at www.buckslegacy.org or visit Facebook and type in Flame Celebration.