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Ipswich family’s heartbreak as son, 17, fights for life after freak motorcycle accident

PUBLISHED: 07:30 28 May 2020

Josh Leaming's mum Mel and his auntie Sarah have been staying up at the Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, staying by Josh's side every day. Picture: MEL LEAMING

Josh Leaming's mum Mel and his auntie Sarah have been staying up at the Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, staying by Josh's side every day. Picture: MEL LEAMING

Picture: MEL LEAMING

A 17-year-old boy from Ipswich is fighting for his life after undergoing two open heart surgeries and being put into a coma following a freak motorcycle accident.

Josh Leaming pictured with his auntie Sarah, who has been by his side since the accident, which has left the 17-year-old from Ipswich fighting for his life. Picture: MEL LEAMINGJosh Leaming pictured with his auntie Sarah, who has been by his side since the accident, which has left the 17-year-old from Ipswich fighting for his life. Picture: MEL LEAMING

Josh Leaming, 17, from Gainsborough, has been on a ventilator for the past three weeks following the accident on Wednesday, May 6, where his off-road bike was involved in a single vehicle crash.

The motorcycle is believed to have landed on Josh’s chest near the foreshore of Orwell Country Park, causing three of his ribs to crack and breaking his sternum.

His mum Mel, who describes her son as a “gentle giant”, said the whole family has “been beside themselves” since receiving the call from police.

Paramedics spent two hours trying to stabilise Josh’s breathing at the scene, before being able to move him to Ipswich Hospital.

Josh Leaming, 17, remains in a critical condition in Royal Papworth Hospital following the accident. Picture: MEL LEAMINGJosh Leaming, 17, remains in a critical condition in Royal Papworth Hospital following the accident. Picture: MEL LEAMING

Ever since, Josh has been in and out of operating theatres, undergoing dialysis, blood transfusions and being sedated – fighting for his life at just 17 years old.

“It is every mum’s worst nightmare,” explained Mel. “We forever owe Josh’s friend for finding him, I’m just so thankful he is still alive.

“Josh had just been out getting some fresh air as he suffers from mental health problems, it was a complete accident – he wasn’t out causing any trouble like people have been claiming on Facebook.

“It was a freak accident and it could have happened to anyone, but he didn’t deserve this,” explained Mel, who says she has been angered by some of the comments made online.

Josh Leaming's mum Mel says the family has been Josh Leaming's mum Mel says the family has been "beside themselves" following Josh's freak accident. Picture: MEL LEAMING

A few days after the accident, Josh was transferred to the Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, which is the UK’s leading heart and lung hospital, where he underwent a 10-hour open heart bypass.

He was also fitted with a pace maker, something which will now stay with the teenager forever, and a week later had a second open heart surgery to remove the bypass.

The next day Josh was rushed back into the operating theatre, having to undergo a lung bypass as he was struggling to breathe.

Josh was then taken out of his induced coma yesterday and has since been able to communicate through squeezes and smiles. He remains on his ventilator to assist his breathing and remains critically ill.

Thanks to Ipswich MP Tom Hunt, Josh’s mum Mel and her sister Sarah, travelled straight to the hospital in Cambridge and have been by his side ever since.

Josh remains in a critical condition and Mel says he has “been on death’s door so many times”, admitting it has been a “heart wrenching” few weeks for the family.

She said: “He remains in intensive care and he would have died without the amazing work of the surgeons at the Royal Papworth Hospital. I can’t thank them enough.

“Josh is battling every day, he really is a fighter. He is a loving man and he is our Josh, but he will suffer for the rest of his life with his injuries.”

Josh hasn’t suffered any brain damage as a result of the accident, but mum Mel is urging parents of young teenagers to ensure they are always wearing protective equipment. Things may have been even worse had Josh not been wearing his helmet.

Mel and Sarah have also been blown away by the support the family has received, with an online fundraiser bringing in more than £2,000, all of which will be used to aid Josh’s recovery.


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