Teenager spent 17 months in Leeds hospital after tractor crash left her with ‘bomb-blast’ injuries
A teenager who spent 17 months in a major trauma hospital in Leeds recovering from “bomb-like injuries” after being hit by a tractor has shared her remarkable story of recovery.
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Lucie Maguire suffered life-changing injuries and had to have her leg amputated after she was hit by a tractor in North Yorkshire on January 27 2021 while trying to help her mum out of her smoke-filled car.
Lucie, who was 19 and working as a nursery apprentice at the time, was being driven home by her mum when the car “started making funny noises and filled with horrible black smoke”.
Recalling the horrific incident, Lucie, of Kirkby Malzeard, near Harrogate, said: “We pulled over on a country lane and I got out. I went to the driver’s side to help my mum. I saw bright headlights coming towards me and thought it was someone who could help us.
“That’s when I was hit by a tractor and dragged under its 10-tonne trailer. I was stuck under there going round continuously with the wheels and it spat me out a bit further down the road."
She recalled telling her parents how much she loved them, adding: “I accepted I was probably going to die because surely nobody survives what I’d just been through.”
Her injuries included full amputation of her right leg and pelvis, broken back and internal damage to key organs including her bladder.
Lucie, now 22, spent the first month at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) – home to the region’s Major Trauma Centre – in a coma fighting for her life. Her parents said ‘goodbye’ at her bedside as her internal bleeding was so severe and medics feared she would die. They also never knew whether she would be able to sit up or stand again.
Lucie said when she awoke she “couldn’t talk” and was “in so much pain”. She said: “I had no idea about the severity of my injuries. It was a few days before they told me I had no right leg. The only way the doctor could explain my injuries was to compare me to someone who had been blown up in Afghanistan. I remember thinking ‘Wow, this is serious’."
Lucie spent more than a year on the hospital’s major trauma ward confined to her bed, while specialist teams liaised with military medics to rebuild her body. By the time she left hospital on June 28 2022, she could sit up and even walked on one leg while using supports.
Lucie said: “At times I felt like the pain was never going to end. There was no light at the end of the tunnel. The hospital became my home. The staff became my family. I never thought I would enjoy life again (but) every obstacle I overcame, I felt immensely proud of myself. Slowly I felt more positive and found strength I never knew I had.
"I’ve gained my independence. If I’ve got through this, I can get through anything. It’s made me a more resilient person. Before I would have given up.”
Samantha Monkman, major trauma ward manager at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said that staff involved with Lucie’s care were “delighted” with her recovery.
She said: "Lucie was our longest-serving patient on the trauma ward and we became like family as we worked through all the challenges she faced together.
"It was the first time many of us had cared for a patient with the extent of injuries Lucie had, but by learning and working together across Leeds Teaching Hospitals, and the NHS, we were able to give Lucie the best possible chance of recovery.”
Throughout her stay at LGI, including during Christmas 2021, Lucie and her mum Sue were supported by Day One Trauma Support – a charity set up to help families affected by catastrophic injuries. Lucie said the charity’s support was “amazing”, adding: “They were one of my constants, providing that emotional support that the busy NHS staff just don’t have the time to give.”
The charity, along with psychologists and staff at LGI, provided emotional and practical support for Lucie and Sue to readjust to their new life, including Sue becoming Lucie’s carer alongside running The Queens Head pub in their home village with Lucie’s dad Paul.
Lucie said: “I had no idea how I was going to live and pay for things outside of hospital if I wasn’t working. I had never thought about benefits as I’m a young woman and expected to work all my life.
"I remember speaking to someone from Day One about what I was entitled to, which was a massive relief for me as I wouldn’t have known where to start.”
Now Lucie, who uses a power-assisted wheelchair and lives in her own bungalow in Kirkby Malzeard, is raising awareness of the long recovery journey people face after major traumatic injuries to support Day One’s Christmas Appeal so it can help even more people who face life-changing injuries over the coming months.
Lucie said: “Christmas 2021 in hospital was the worst. I should have been partying with my friends, not crying in hospital and worrying about my future. I’m so grateful that Day One was there for me and my family at Christmas. They do so much for people with injuries like mine, which is why I’m so passionate to support their Christmas Appeal and would encourage anyone to donate and help other people like me.”
Donations made via the website between now and January 3 will be doubled thanks to match funding by Aviva Community Fund.