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Chelsey Smith was 15 when she was left with life-threatening injuries, following a road traffic accident in February last year.
After an initial assessment at the University Hospital in Wishaw, Lanarkshire, Chelsey was rushed to the West of Scotland’s Paediatric Major Trauma Centre in Glasgow for specialist treatment.
Consultant Paediatric Neurosurgeon Roddy O’Kane performed the surgery, to reduce the swelling and pressure on Chelsey’s brain, with part of her skull being removed and stored in her stomach to keep it sterile.
Following intensive rehab with the team at the RHC, Chelsey, who is now 16, has made a remarkable recovery and, less than a year after her final surgery, was a guest of honour at the Major Trauma Centre’s training day this week.
She said: “I just can’t thank all of the team here at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow for everything they have done for me, they have saved my life and given me my life back too.
“I don’t remember much about the day of the accident to be honest, but I’m here now and that’s what matters. I have had so much support from Roddy, my Major Trauma Co-ordinator Lynsay Stewart, all of the staff at the hospital and of course my family.
“Roddy was able to magically take a part of my skull and put it in my stomach to let the swelling reduce in my brain, I don’t really know how it works but it’s amazing. It was a long journey and I would tell anyone who is in a similar situation to keep going, to make this recovery you have to be mentally prepared for it too and thankfully I had so many positive people around me to help with that.”
Chelsey is now back preparing for her exams at Brannock High in Newarthill, has been able to get a part-time job and is hoping to go on to study accountancy.
She said: “Obviously everything that happened was not good, but thanks to the Royal Hospital for Children team in Glasgow I have been able to get back to school and have also started a part-time job.
“I just want to say thank you again to everyone for all they have done for me. Even after my follow-up appointments are finished, I’ll keep coming back to visit, I have missed them all.”
The procedure which involves removing part of the skull is not common, but after other medical interventions were unsuccessful it was the last option to save Chelsey’s life.
Roddy said: “This procedure is not something that we do every day but it gave Chelsey the best chance of surviving the injuries she had sustained during the accident.
“We take part of the skull out and store it in the stomach in order to keep it sterile, this is usually re-attached after a couple of months once swelling has reduced.
“Chelsey’s recovery is absolutely remarkable, based on her condition when she arrived it is incredible to see how well she is doing. There was a real danger to her life and we also anticipated that there would be more of lasting impact on her life.
“We are all so proud of Chelsey and all of the hard work she has put in during her rehab with our specialist teams. We’re delighted for her and her family and were all beaming from ear to ear when we got to see her again today.”