Love will bring coma-surviving crash victim back from the brink of death, says his Sheffield family

A young man fighting for his life in intensive care after a head-on car crash with a bus will survive because "Love conquers all" says his family.

By Bob Westerdale
Friday, 31 May, 2019, 13:24

Charlie Hancock, 21, Eckington, emerged from a coma recently but remains dangerously ill in Sheffield's Northern General.

His relatives have been told on several occasions he was unlikely to survive - but he has responded to treatment and the round-the-clock love and support they are providing.

While his catalogue of injuries means he remains in critical condition, family believe he has been "reborn" after coming out of the coma and they are willing Charlie to one day walk out of the hospital to a new life.

In the last few days, he has stood up and walked to the end of his bed.

In April, the welder had been on his way to work when his Vauxhall Corsa smashed into the bus on Southgate.

His brother Callum told The Star: "People on the bus said it sounded like a bomb had gone off. A woman bus passenger, who knows our family, couldn't recognise Charlie because he was covered with blood, slouched behind the wheel.

Charlie Hancock, right, with brother Callum

"He was gasping for breath. Luckily an air ambulance was flying nearby and they got to him rapidly. There seemed no heart rate or pulse, so they injected adrenaline into his heart and siphoned fluid from his lungs. He was airlifted to the Northern General.

"At the time, I was working on a scaffold in Shalesmoor and actually watched the air ambulance. Them my Mum rang me to say Charlie had been taken to hospital in it. There, they removed his spleen after it had bled out and after a while, we found out he'd broken ribs, his hip, legs, his left knee, his ankle and wrist - and they were his more minor injuries" said Callum, 28, a professional boxer.

"He went straight into the Critical Care Unit - they told us they needed to operate on his heart because his ribs had crushed it. His liver was mashed to bits and his kidneys had stopped working. He had a punctured lung. There was a high chance he wouldn't survive open-heart surgery - it was a chance they had to take.

"He was in an induced coma but we were over the moon when we were told it was a success. But we came crashing down when his blood-oxygen levels became a major concern.

Charlie with girlfriend Tia

"He'd had multiple organ failures and the staff doubted he would survive the night. We were told it would be a good time to pray, if we felt we needed to.

"They said he had very little chance but that they'd do their best. There were several occasions we were told we should think about saying our goodbyes, but I never did. For me, it was too much to accept and I believed in my little brother so much.

"I have never seen anybody or anything in so much pain - and I have never seen anybody or anything fight for their life like that.”

Fourteen days after the crash, April 17, Charlie opened his eyes - but his family got the feeling that "there was nobody at home" - his gaze was vacant.

Charlie Hancock

Callum said: "Eventually he started to respond raising his eyebrows or squeezing a hand.

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"The problem was he was becoming tolerant to the drugs and we had to witness him go through excruciating pain for nearly two weeks.

"It is so hard to see your brother, while he is fighting for his life, trying to say something to you but you can't understand what.

"It was the beginning of May that he came out of the coma, I was at his bedside when he broke out of it. It was a massive breakthrough, unbelievable. It was a re-birth. Those moments are priceless."

Two weeks ago Charlie's kidneys started to work again and he could communicate more, nodding his head.

"He can be funny, it's sometimes as if he doesn't have a care in the world and is pulling faces at the nurses. He's unreal" said Callum, who has another brother, Conor, 26.

"But he's suffered from hallucinations and delirium. Yet his character has come through. He winked at people and even slapped his girlfriend's bum!"

Despite a tracheostomy tube, he's managed to say a few words, write down on a whiteboard and even take a selfie with a camera.

Then he astonished everybody by managing to stand up and shuffle down to the bottom of his bed.

"My gut feeling is that Charlie is going to pull through," said the elder brother.

"I am boxing on July 19 and am giving my entire purse to his rehabilitation programme - it is going to be a long road to recovery. I believe in my brother. He has upset all the odds and I wouldn't be surprised if he continued to do that.

"In the Critical Care unit, it is often hard for our family to remain positive in a place so full of death and brain trauma. But we are staying strong and optimistic, and we are there for one another.

"All through this, we have found out how much we care for each other and how much support we can get from family and friends from far afield.

"The staff at the Northern General are amazing and we are fortunate to have them helping. They are unsung heroes, they saved Charlie's life."

Charlie's main problem currently is his liver and the risk of infection, said Callum.

"He is on a ventilator and dialysis 24/7 and has survived on ketamine and morphine.

"But love conquers all and he knows his family is willing him on. It has not broken us, it has made us stronger than ever.

"The hospital will pull him through.

“Tia, his girlfriend, has coped brilliantly. She has never stopped loving and caring for him every day. It is a lot for a young girl to take on and I respect her so much and am proud we have got her in our life."