A MAN who survived a near-fatal collision and then battled Covid-19 has finally returned home nearly 20 months after his accident.

Nick Copson, 47, originally from Woodland, near Bishop Auckland, survived a head-on collision near Witton-le-Wear on the A68 in September 2018.

Two critical care teams from the Great North Air Ambulance Service came to his aid and worked alongside the North East Ambulance Service and fire and rescue teams.

GNAAS paramedic Marcus Johnson, part of the team who treated Nick on scene, said: “Having seen his leg injuries, we had expected him to make more of a fuss when he was removed from the car, but he didn’t flinch which indicated either a serious brain injury or a major spinal injury.”

Nick was flown to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.

He had severed his spinal cord, shattered two vertebrae and had multiple compound fractures to his right leg.

He broke his ribs and collarbone, punctured both lungs with the right lung bleeding out and had a major bleed from an artery.

The Northern Echo:

Medics saved Nick's life in hospital

Six days after the crash Nick underwent a major operation on his spine, during which medics had to save him three times.

He went on to have both legs amputated and overcame sepsis, multi organ failure, a fungal blood infection, kidney dialysis, blood clots and grade four bedsores.

Nick finally left hospital in October 2019 and moved into a rehabilitation care home to continue his recovery before eventually coming home.

During this time the outbreak of Covid-19 was announced and his care home went into lockdown.

His wife, Nikki, decided to stay with him but at the end of March the couple started exhibiting symptoms linked to coronavirus.

The Northern Echo:

Nick and his wife Nikki

She said: “When we both had a tickly cough but no temperature we were quarantined in his room as a precaution. I then agreed that I would do all his care, including repositioning him every four hours, bed bathing him, doing his dressings, colostomy bag and conveen as well and helping him feed himself.”

Nick was tested for Covid-19 which came back positive, and it was deemed his wife also had it as they had the same symptoms.

Nikki said: “Our family’s support helped us through this horrible time. Nick felt helpless as he couldn’t do anything for me or look after me.

“We both overcame the virus and were extremely thankful neither of us needed to go into hospital.

A huge amount of respect to those fighting it on a daily basis.

“Now I was better I still wasn’t allowed out of his room and this lasted for seven weeks. During this time we both had some good laughs with each other and also some cries. A lot of time to reflect on the accident and how far Nick had come but never ever with any self-pity.

"We both deal with what comes our way how we have always dealt with it, together and with strength, hope and humour.”

Nick was finally discharged from the care home in May after staying there for seven months.

However just a week after moving into his temporary bungalow in Eaglescliffe, he was back in hospital with sepsis.

The couple are now back home and have settled into their temporary accommodation while their new home is being built.

The Northern Echo:

Nick Copson

Nick said: “Though my recovery journey is nowhere near complete and I am still horizontally bed bound, coming home is a massive step.

“It’s a huge milestone for me as it means my family can spend more time with me as well as living a new normal life.

“The current Covid requirements aren’t allowing my wider family and friends to visit yet however we will be having big celebrations when they are allowed.

“My wife has and continues to be my rock, always by my side every day ensuring my care needs are adhered to.

“There were times when I thought this time wouldn’t come, but those that supported my journey have really made the difference. M

“My recovery to date has taken hundreds of people to get me this far. A huge thank you to the firefighters of Green Watch from Bishop Auckland Fire Station, paramedics from NEAS along with the HART team, Durham Constabulary, blood donors and the biggest thank you goes to the Great North Air Ambulance paramedics and doctors who ensured my survival. I owe you my life.

“The list continues with all those within the ICU 2 at James Cook, individuals within the spinal unit, they know who they are. Then on to those individuals within the rehabilitation centre, they too know who they are. The support now continues with the district nurses and most importantly my spinal care managers, oh and my wife Nikki.

“All of this wouldn’t be possible without GNAAS, your support is so valuable, please donate.”

Nick and Nikki are now taking on a cycling challenge to raise money for GNAAS. They will both be cycling 100 miles, Nikki on her exercise bike, and Nick on his hand bike.

To sponsor them click here