A CONSTRUCTION worker who sustained horrific head injuries in a workplace accident has made a miraculous recovery after doctors gave him “no chance” of surviving.
Sean Taylor’s family were told to prepare for the worst after he was rushed to hospital on Valentine’s Day from a building site in Nottingham.
But rather than mourning the 29-year-old’s untimely death, his friends and relatives are now celebrating his astounding recovery.
“It is a miracle, honestly,” said Margaret Conlon, Sean’s aunt. “We were told to say goodbye to him and three months later he is up walking around and talking to people.”
Sean, who has roots in Co. Tipperary, suffered severe head injuries when a reinforced steel shutter came loose and crushed him.
The banksman was working on the construction of an Olympic-sized swimming pool at the £13.5million revamp of Harvey Hadden Sports Centre in Bilborough.
Colleagues told The Irish Post Sean would have escaped if he were shorter, as the 2.5m shutter would have fell like a domino and come to rest above him after hitting a wall.
Instead it came down on 6' 5'' Sean, known as “Big Red”, just below his hard hat and pinned his head against a wall, breaking his skull on both sides.
His injuries were said to resemble those of Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher, who came out of coma today, after smashing his head against a rock while skiing in the French Alps last December.
“I thought he was dead,” said Paul Soroczyk, the site manager on the job who has worked with Sean since he followed his father into construction at the age of 17. “I saw the shutter squash his head. There was blood coming out of his ears, eyes, mouth and nose. I had never seen anything like it in 23 years in the industry.”
After Mr Soroczyk called the ambulance, Sean was rushed to Queen’s Medical Centre for emergency surgery to remove parts of his skull as his brain swelled.
“When we got to A&E we were told that he was not going to make it,” said aunt Margaret Conlon. “The doctors said he had no chance of surviving because when both sides of his skull were crushed, fragments of bone went into his brain, which was causing the bleeding.”
Although he survived the three-hour operation, Sean had to be put into an induced coma and on a ventilator as friends and family prayed at his bedside in intensive care.
Doctors told them the next 72 hours would be crucial and that they should “prepare for the worst” as his colleagues kept the site closed out of respect.
Their hopes then suffered a hammer blow when he contracted pneumonia.
But Sean survived the 72 hours and began his remarkable recovery days later after a nurse spotted his hand “fidgeting”.
“She went over to his bed and asked him to squeeze her hand and he squeezed it,” Ms Conlon explained. “Then she then told him to put his tongue out and even though he was on a ventilator he tried.”
As doctors slowly eased Sean out of sedation, hopes that he could survive his ordeal grew as he began breathing independently of the ventilator.
In the following weeks, he woke slowly from his coma, regained his speech and started to walk again.
“He can do everything,” Ms Conlon said after visiting Sean in hospital this week. “The only problem he has at the moment is with his short term memory. He can tell you his phone number, where he lives, about his past, anything like that. But you could be sitting with him talking one minute and then go out to get something and when you come in he will think that you have just come in for the first time that day.”
While doctors and occupational therapists are currently working with Sean to improve his memory, they do not know if he will be able to fully regain it.
They may also have to perform reconstructive surgery on his skull.
But his family and friends remain overjoyed about his progress so far.
“How he survived this I will never know, but clearly someone up there wanted him to make it,” Ms Conlon said.
The Health and Safety Executive has launched an investigation into the accident and is due to reach its conclusions in the coming weeks.
Carillion, the firm in charge of the Harvey Hadden project, declined to say whether it has changed its safety protocols in light of the accident because it “cannot go into individual cases”.
“Safety work is one of our top priorities,” a spokesperson added. “We take any accident very seriously and investigate to ensure if there are any lessons to be learnt they are learnt and implemented.”
The Irish Post contacted Northfield, the subcontractor for which Sean was working at the time of his accident, but nobody was available for comment.