It began like any normal day for 15-year-old Luke Craig. He'd gone to a family christening, then on to a party. But returning home he was involved in a horrific car crash. Luke remembers nothing.
Luke was rushed to the nearest casualty department. They discovered that although Luke's seatbelt had saved him from flying through the windscreen of the car, the huge forces in the crash had caused serious internal injuries including a tear in his heart. He was bleeding internally, and needed more and more blood to replace the loss. They would have to operate immediately if Luke was to have any chance of surviving.
Julie, his Mum says, "I was numb with the shock. All I remember the doctor saying was, 'We don't know if we can save this lad. All we can say is the operation is his best chance.' I was desperate for them to help him so I signed the forms, and that was it. I didn't see Luke again until three in the morning."
The hospital managed to contact a specialist heart surgeon in nearby Manchester, but Luke was so ill there was no time to wait for him to arrive. Taking instructions over the telephone, surgeons managed to repair the tear in Luke's heart.
Julie recalls, "When they came to see me, they said they'd done all they could, but it was up to Luke to pull through. I was so terrified, I couldn't even cry." Two days after his operation and in a more stable condition, Luke was transferred to Alder Hey Children's Hospital, where he spent two weeks on a ventilator before he could breathe for himself.
Amazingly, just two weeks after coming off the ventilator, Luke's condition had improved and he was well enough to go home.
"It was great," says Luke, "like the first step back to my normal life." Now, 18 months later, Luke is playing football again and gradually regaining his fitness. Doctors expect him to make a full recovery.
To the blood donors who donated the 24 pints he needed to get through his operation, Luke will be eternally grateful.
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