Heartwarming story of boy, ten, and sister, eight, who fought for life side-by-side in intensive care after horrific car crash… but are now home after miracle recovery
Jack Handyside, 10, and sister Sophie, eight, BOTH put on life support
They suffered brain injuries after smash in Staindrop, County DurhamSiblings hurt after car driven by father Darren, 45, crashedBoth have defied doctors and are on way to making full recovery
Daily Mail Reporter
17:17 GMT, 13 January 2013
14:39 GMT, 14 January 2013
Watching her two children fight for their lives side by side in intensive care after a horrific car crash, Julie Elstob told herself it had to be a nightmare.
Sophie, eight, had suffered a fractured skull, while Jack, ten, had a bleed on the brain, and doctors warned he may never walk again.
Yet little more than three months on, Jack and Sophie Handyside are both home and on the mend – astonishing medics and delighting their mother.
Miracle children: Jack and Sophie Handyside have made almost full recoveries after being left side-by-side in intensive care following a head-on car crash
The head-on crash happened as they were
travelling with their father, Darren Handyside, along a country road in
County Durham on September 29.
He suffered abdominal injuries and was flown to hospital in Middlesbrough, while the children were airlifted to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, where they were put on life support.
Jack underwent emergency surgery to remove two parts of his skull, allowing his brain to swell safely.
Mrs Elstob, a nurse, said: 'It was horrendous. It was just like a dream, I couldn’t believe it was happening.
'They were both in intensive care on a life support machine, side by side.
'I can’t put into words what it was like.'
Jack, who was in hospital for 15 weeks, will have to have parts of his skull replaced, while Sophie, who was dubbed ‘miracle girl’ by medics, was discharged on October 24 and returned back to her primary school before Christmas.
Julie, 41, said: 'It’s amazing how far they have come on. I can’t believe Sophie got out so quick and Jack is now following in her footsteps.
'He’s doing stuff again that I never believed he would.
'Over Christmas and New Year it was the first nights we had him home and I can’t believe he’s now been discharged.
Little angel: Sophie before the crash. She was dubbed a 'miracle child' by doctors, who were astounded by her recovery
'I remember seeing some other children walking out of the hospital and I never thought it was ever going to be them.
'I’m just so happy they’re both home and on the mend.'
Following the horror crash near their home, the children were airlifted to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, where they spent time in the intensive care unit.
The youngsters were travelling in the car with their father Darren, 45, who suffered abdominal injuries in the crash on the A688 near Raby Castle.
A 78-year-old woman from Sunderland, who was driving the other car, a black Vauxhall Corsa, suffered minor injuries and was taken to Darlington Memorial Hospital.
It is not yet known how the accident happened.
Blessed: Jack, 10, had to have two pieces of his skull removed and was on a life support machine for weeks after the crash
Julie said: 'It happened on Saturday morning and on the Sunday I just kept watching the screens.
'The pressure in Jack’s head was rising and rising. On the Sunday night he was rushed into theatre.
'They removed two large parts of his skull to allow the brain to swell safely.
'In the beginning we were told Jack would struggle to walk again, he wasn’t eating, talking or responding.
'I can’t describe what it was like.
'We knew how serious Jack was and they moved him to be next to Sophie so it was easier for us to watch them both.
'Because I’m a nurse I knew it didn’t look good. It was like a dream, I just wanted to wake up.'
The youngster is getting back to her normal life and is enjoying spending time with her two pet rabbits and guinea pig.
In the future it is hoped that Jack,
who played rugby for his local under-11 team, and was goalkeeper for his
school football team, will return to playing sport.
The family are now planning a number of fundraising events to raise money for the GNAAS charity.
Julie would like to thank everybody who has supported Jack and Sophie in their recovery, including members of the public on the scene, paramedics, fire crews, the Great North Air Ambulance, the doctors on board and the paediatric intensive care unit at the RVI.
Julie added: 'It makes me proud to be part of the NHS.'