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From tragedy to triumph: Yorkshire Air Ambulance patient finds purpose after life-changing accident

At the age of 24, Sam Waddington’s life was forever altered when his leg was amputated below the knee after doctors were unable to preserve it after a serious motorcycle accident.

Ten years on, his outlook on life has drastically changed, seeing every day as an exciting opportunity. Sam now works to support other people with lifechanging motorcycle injuries to gain access to the prosthetics that they need.

On 26th June 2013, Sam from Bridlington was travelling home from work on his motorbike when a car hit him whilst he was travelling at around 37 miles per hour, leaving himwith lifechanging injuries.

Sam, who at the time was employed as a sheet metal worker at a local factory, finished his shift early and hopped on his streetfighter style Triumph Speed Triple motorbike to head home.

While hem was weaving through bumper to bumper traffic, a car pulled out suddenly to access a slip road, ploughing straight into Sam as he passed by.

Sam was thrown from his bike, which was later found in three pieces, and passers-by including an off-duty police officer quickly sprung to action, calling the emergency services. Sam sustained many serious injuries, including a number of fractured vertebrae, broken femur, nose, collarbone, shoulder and ribs along with many other scrapes and cuts to his skin. 

Yorkshire Air Ambulance dispatched one of their helicopters and after an assessment on-scene, Sam was flown to Hull Royal Infirmary where he received lifesaving surgery before being placed into a medically induced coma for a week.

His leg was amputated below the knee after doctors were unable to preserve it during his two-month hospitalisation.

Sam remembers how consultants originally told his family that his injuries were so severe that at the time of admission his condition was really touch and go as to whether or not he would survive.

Sam was determined once he was home to commit to his physiotherapy, with his main goal to return to work. Sam said: “When I was in hospital, time felt like a blur, but I knew when I was back home that would be when the real work really had to take place. I was keen to get back to work and have my normal life again’.

He reached his goal to return to work after an intensive 18-month recovery. However, as his life gradually regained a sense of normality, he felt his outlook on life had altered forever. Sam said: “I had a fresh perspective on life, and I knew there was so much out there to see… I came so close to death that I felt I had a second chance. It was time to make a change, and see the world.”

It was during his adventures across the globe, Sam met the love of his life, Amber, and the pair were soon married. The couple spent nearly five years backpacking around Europe, Asia and America before returning to the UK to settle down.

During this time, Sam also gained his personal Helicopter License and now relishes the opportunity to fly, only this time, under much happier circumstances.

Speaking on his travel memories, Sam said: “Sure, it would be amazing to have my leg back, but the things I have gone on to do and the people I have met and places I have seen have been incredible, and I wouldn’t have done them if I didn’t have my accident. If I still had my leg, I probably wouldn’t have met my wife, which seems so crazy to me!”

Today, Sam works for Fletchers Group as charity and partnerships coordinator. It is a law firm which is dedicated to supporting individuals with life changing injuries for over 30 years.

When referring to his accident, and the people who helped to save his life, Sam said: “Without Yorkshire Air Ambulance, I honestly believe I wouldn’t be here today. The team were instrumental in getting me to hospital as fast as they did. Although I don’t remember much from the day, I cannot thank each and every person for their help, you have my upmost respect and gratitude.

“To anybody who may find themselves in a similar situation to myself, and facing life as an amputee, just know – don’t give up on life. Things will get better, and I am living proof that with the right mindset, life can be an incredible thing, even without my leg!”

To support the life-saving work of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, please visit www.yaa.org.uk.  

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