A DEVOTED mum has told how her son was left with a huge crater in his head after having part of his skull removed - but she knows he still recognises her as he cries when she leaves him.
Ryan Womack, now 25, from Manchester, left a friend’s house to visit a nearby chip shop before losing control of his car on a rainy road a year ago.
Ryan survived but he needed emergency surgery on his brain, and he is now paralysed, mute and living in a nursing home.
Following the first-year anniversary of the accident yesterday, Helen Womack and her family are raising funds so they can bring Ryan home.
Mum of three, Helen, 51, says: “We were told that Ryan was unlikely to survive, and that even if he did, he would never be himself again.
"He has massive brain damage and there is a large part of his skull removed.
“But we have been told he can make progress. The brain can rewire and recover and so I have lots of hope for the future.
“Ryan is currently having therapy and though it’s early days, we are very hopeful.
“We’re awaiting the final go-ahead from the housing association so that we can begin planning the extension to our home.
“I feel that Ryan would improve so much if he was at home. When we leave him in the nursing home, he has tears in his eyes. He needs his family around him.”
Ryan is the eldest of Helen’s three children and was a happy-go-lucky boy with lots of friends.
Before his accident, he worked as a freelance tree surgeon and ran a successful business.
On October 6 last year, Ryan, then 24, finished work and then spent the evening with friends, before deciding to go to the local chip shop.
We were told that Ryan was unlikely to survive, and that even if he did, he would never be himself again.Helen Womack, 51
But he lost control of his car on the short journey after misjudging a bend in the rain.
He had not been drinking before the accident and police believe the poor weather and the bend caused him to skid.
He hit three parked cars and suffered serious injuries which caused his brain to swell rapidly.
Passer-by Dawn Heath feared he was dead, and, despite advice from onlookers, she climbed into the car to sit with Ryan in what she believed were his final moments.
"Everyone was telling her to get out of the car before it exploded but she refused to leave him alone," teaching assistant Helen says.
“I owe her such a debt and we’ve become friends since.”
Helen received a late-night visit from police to say Ryan had been in a car crash and may not survive.
She says: “The doctor told us that surgery was his only option. But he warned that if they did the surgery, he would never be Ryan again. But we just told them to do what they could.”
Doctors performed a craniotomy, removing a large front section of Ryan’s skull to relieve the swelling on his brain.
Doctors had hoped to fit a metal plate but Ryan developed an infection.
Although the surgery saved his life, Ryan was left paralysed and unable to talk or eat due to his brain injury.
Helen says: “It was extremely traumatic. My partner, Tony, was in total shock. It was horrific.”
As Ryan began his recovery, there were days when he often did not even recognise his family, including his younger sister, Anna, now 20, and little brother, Ben, eight.
Helen says: “We were told he had massive brain damage but that doctors could not say how much he might recover because the brain can regenerate and rewire over time.
“It gave us a glimmer of hope.”
Ryan is currently receiving rehab in a nursing home and recently began Red Light Therapy, a technique which uses red low-level wavelengths of light to treat persistent wounds.
Helen says: “I think he showed a glimmer of progress, I can see his response in his face.
“But it is going to take time.
“Over the last year, we have all had birthdays and celebrations, and each time we take a cake and balloons into the home so that Ryan can be a part of it all.
But it’s so hard, leaving him behind. It tears me apart. He has tears in his eyes and I hate walking away from him.Helen Womack
“But it’s so hard, leaving him behind. It tears me apart. He has tears in his eyes and I hate walking away from him.”
Helen is now reaching what she hopes are the final stages of her fundraising, to bring her son home.
Helen says: “We feel that at home, with his brother and sister and his dog, Ryan will make the best possible recovery.
“Ryan always looked after Ben, they were so close. But now, it’s the other way around. Ben feels he wants to care for Ryan instead.
“As his mum, I am more than happy to look after him full time. But I just need to get our home ready for him.”
Ryan’s dad, Tony, is a bricklayer, his uncle is a plasterer and best friend is an electrician. All are willing to work for free. Helen is hoping to hit £10,000 to help with the project.
Earlier this month, the family was bowled over when stranger, Carol Davies donated £150,000 of medical equipment to them for Ryan to use at home.
Carol, from Lancaster, had bought the items to care for her late husband Donald Berry who suffered brain damage from an 11,000 volt electric shock when his crane hit a live cable at the Kendal Calling Festival in 2010.
The shock cut off oxygen to his brain and left him severely disabled. Donald, a dad-of-one, died in August 2016.
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Helen says: “Carol heard Ryan’s story and she contacted me to offer me the medical bed and hoist and all the equipment Ryan will need.
“It is wonderful to find such kindness. We’ve been through hell this last year, but it’s the generosity of people like Carol that keeps us going.”
Greater Manchester Police confirmed that there is no ongoing investigation as a result of Ryan’s accident. To donate visit Helen's GoFundMe page.
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