Courage of couple badly hurt in crash

A COURAGEOUS wife almost sliced in two in an horrific car crash which left both her and her husband fighting for their lives has had to have her leg amputated.

By James Mortlock

A COURAGEOUS wife almost sliced in two in an horrific car crash which left both her and her husband fighting for their lives has had to have her leg amputated.

But relatives of Jillian Macready, who underwent an eight-hour emergency operation and needed 20 pints of blood to save her life after the devastating accident at Great Barton, near Bury St Edmunds, say she is determined to walk again.

Mrs Macready, 45, and her husband of two years, Charles, 48, are being cared for by doctors at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge.

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As well as the eight hours of surgery to repair terrible damage to her stomach, she had to endure five more gruelling operations in the 10 days after the New Year smash on a notorious stretch of road.

This weekend, Mrs Macready, 45, underwent further stomach surgery and the well-known wine maker from Stanton, near Bury, will need operations to reconstruct muscle tissue later in the year. She is expected to need to stay in hospital for another two-and-a-half months

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Her husband, who suffered critical head injuries and a badly fractured leg in the accident on January 4, is also facing two more months in hospital before he is expected to be well enough to return home.

Hilary Mason, Mrs Macready's younger sister, said both her sister and brother-in-law could easily have died: "They're incredibly lucky to be alive. Addenbrooke's, the people at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury where Jillian was first treated and the people who got them out of the car have done a wonderful job.

"I feel we could have lost them on January 4 and that would have been the most horrendous thing in my life."

She said her sister was a strong and fit woman and believed it is this coupled with her determined will which pulled her through: "She's an incredible woman - a brilliant woman and she will get over this. Together she and Charles will get through it."

Mrs Mason, who lives at Wyverstone, near Stowmarket, said her sister suffered several broken ribs, a punctured lung and fractured arm as well as the serious abdominal injuries.

"The seatbelt she was wearing nearly cut her in half. The damage was so bad she had to have some of her bowel removed."

She said the severe stomach injuries contributed to the damage to her sister's lower leg: "The doctors tried to save her leg - that was what some of the operations were for - but the injuries were just so severe and it had to be amputated below the knee.

"But she's incredibly lucky to be alive. During the eight-hour operation after the accident she had to have 20 units of blood."

Mrs Mason said she, her parents - pensioners Peter and Celia Simms, and her other sister, Bridget Simms-Balham, had between them kept vigil at Mrs Macready's bedside. And the weeks of worry and uncertainty were now coming to an end, she said.

"We are able to get up there and have a laugh to try and boost her up. She says it's so wonderful to be able to talk to us but I feel we could have so easily lost her. It's wonderful to have her there determined to get back to full fitness."

She said it would take months for her sister to walk again but she is already desperate to get into a wheelchair and believes her strength of character will make the difficult time ahead easier to cope with.

"She's a keen walker and a member of the RSPB and the Suffolk Wildlife Trust and she will definitely walk again. It's sad this has happened but you can live without a leg - look at Heather Mills - she does very well and I'm sure Jill will be the same."

An unconscious Mr Macready was airlifted to the neurological unit at Addenbrooke's straight from the crash scene because of the severity of his injuries. He is now making good progress but his shattered leg is proving a problem to mend, said Mrs Mason.

But the sister said the fact that they were in the same unit was vital: "The main thing is they're with us still and they're together. Jill looks good and Charles is beginning to come round. They are close to each other and able to see each other a lot. They have lunch together almost every day and spend a lot of time together."

She said the couple will have been married for three years on March 19 and looked set to celebrate their anniversary in Addenbrooke's: "It's like they're joining forces together in hospital. Jill does get down but she wants to get out she is looking forward to the future."

Mrs Mason said her parents, along with Mr Macready's two grown up children Jamie, 19, and 21-year-old Laura, were dealing with the aftermath of the accident well but the first few days of uncertainty were almost unbearable for them.

Last year, Mr and Mrs Macready - who run a vineyard at Ickworth Park near Bury - produced their first sparkling wine and named it Ickworth Pink. Mr Macready divides his time between the vineyard and working as a driving instructor.

Their Citroen car was involved in a head-on smash on the A143 at Great Barton with a Jaguar on a sharp bend leaving the village. The driver of the Jaguar suffered minor injuries.

Suffolk County Council roads bosses have identified safety improvements they plan to put into place on the road over the next few weeks.

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