"I really thought I might not make itâ€¦"
It took 33 units of blood and skilled medical care to save Mike Austin’s life. Now he’s raring to get back on a bike.
Motorsport fanatic, Mike Austin, 34, will never forget the summer of 2006. On his way to work on his much loved Kawasaki ZXâ€“7R motorbike, he collided with a car. The accident was devastating. "The impact of the crash trapped my leg between my bike and the car," says Mike. "My body was slumped over and I knew my leg was in a bad way, but I didn’t feel any pain."
An ambulance and paramedics soon arrived and they spent over 45 minutes trying to stabilise Mike before he could be taken to Leighton Hospital in Crewe. The crash had almost destroyed Mike’s leg â€“ all the skin and muscle had been torn from it, the bones were shattered, and his femoral artery was badly damaged.
"As soon as I arrived at A&E blood was pumped into each arm and another bag was attached to my neck. The bags of blood were all being squeezed into me as I was losing blood faster than it could be transfused. I was still conscious but the doctors could not find a pulse and my chances of survival were becoming very slim."
Mike was quickly taken to theatre where surgeons tried their hardest to save his leg by putting in a plate and stitching everything back together. During the operation the entire volume of his blood had to be replaced four times.
Two days later the doctors took a look at his leg. It was not good news. "I was told that my leg would need to be amputated," says Mike. "I already knew that it would not survive â€“ there was simply nothing they could do. Even though I had already told myself my leg would be amputated, hearing the actual words was still heartâ€“wrenching.
"By the time I was told, the pain had become so bad that I was glad it was going to be done. Blood was clotting in my leg, which was poisoning the rest of my body â€“ I really thought I might not make it to the operating table â€“ I felt like I was drifting away."
In theatre, surgeons decided to amputate above the knee, a major decision as an amputation above, rather than below, the knee would give less movement with an artificial leg in the future.
"When I woke up from my operation I could see from the covers that the amputation had been done above the knee. At that stage I was just glad to be alive. I could still barely move but there was a major improvement in my condition."
Mike was later transferred to North Staffordshire Hospital, Stokeâ€“onâ€“Trent, where plastic surgeons took over his treatment.
"Skin was taken from my thigh and grafted onto the 60 sq inch (nearly 400 sq cm) wound. I knew after I had recovered from this final operation I could get back to Leighton Hospital to start my rehabilitation â€“ that’s what kept me going through the toughest times."
Positive for the future
After months of operations, involving a total of 33 units of blood products, Mike is looking positively to the future and has far from lost his passion for motorsport and certainly hopes to ride again.
He says, "I’m still working hard with my physio and hope to get in a position where I can be fitted with a flexible knee limb. This is some way off at the moment as I am going to need an operation due to complications that are causing pressure on my skin graft.
Before something like this happens it is easy to go through life blinkered, but now I’m glad to be alive and appreciate each and every day. And, without blood donors I definitely would not be here."