'Miracle recovery' of teen declared brain dead by four doctors
A teenager who was declared brain dead by four doctors has made a "miracle" recovery after his parents asked for another medical opinion, just moments before his life support machine could have been switched off.
Steven Thorpe, then 17, suffered horrific injuries in a multiple car crash, leaving him in a medically-induced coma and another man dead.
Doctors told his family he would never recover and asked them to consider donating his organs before his life-support machine was turned off.
Instead, Steven’s father enlisted the help of private GP Julia Piper to check his son again as doctors at University Hospital in Coventry, West Midlands, agreed to let a neurologist re-examine him.
Remarkably, he detected faint brain waves indicating Steven had a slim chance of recovery and medics decided to attempt to bring him out of his coma.
Just five weeks later, he was discharged from hospital having made a near-full recovery.
Steven, a 21-year-old trainee accountant, has now spoken of his progress for the first time and paid tribute to his family and the GP who may have saved him.
He said: "My father believed I was still there.
"He expressed his views to Julia Piper and I think she listened very closely to what my dad had said.
"My impression is maybe the hospital weren't very happy that my father wanted a second opinion.
"I think the doctors wanted to give me three days on the life support machine and the following day they said they wanted to turn it off.
"The words they used to my parents were 'you need to start thinking about organ donations'.
"I think that's what gave my dad energy, he thought 'no way'.
"I think if my dad would've agreed with them then it would've been off in seconds.
"If my parents hadn't asked for the second opinion, and if Julia hadn't been there, I wouldn't be here today."
Steven, from Kenilworth, Warks., was been travelling home from nearby Leamington Spa in February 2008 when the vehicle he was in was involved in a collision with two other cars and a horse that had run loose.
The horrific crash left one man dead and the horse was also fatally injured.
Steven was rushed to hospital and surgeons performed a craniotomy to help alleviate any swelling on his brain.
But despite the operation being successful, brain scans failed to detect any electrical pulses and he was declared brain dead.
Steven said: "As far as I am concerned, living is a full recovery. From how I was to how I am now, I think it's a miracle.
"I drive to work every day, I don't think anything is holding me back. There's no point dwelling on it, I just pull my socks up and get on with it.
"Hopefully it can help people see that you should never give up. I've had so much positive feedback about it.
"If you believe it then follow it, that's the motto. My father believed I was alive - and he was correct.
"It's hard for me to even ask my parents about what happened.
"They do cooperate with me because they want me to understand it all but they don't want to be reminded about it."
Dr Piper, who runs a private practice in Leicester, said: "They had doctors saying he wasn't going to live but the parents felt there was flickers of response and it wasn't just wishful thinking.
"I had this strong feeling that this wasn't right and then eventually I got someone else to look at him and of course it proved to have been the right thing to have done.
"It's an inspirational story about never giving up.
"He's a remarkable young man and his recovery has been astonishing."
Since leaving hospital four years ago, Steven has had four operations to reconstruct his face, including having his nose rebuilt and an artificial eye socket made.
He also has physiotherapy session to improve the movement in his left arm which was badly injured in the road smash.
In a statement, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust said: "The injury to Steven's brain was extremely critical and several CT scans of the head showed almost irreversible damage.
"It is extremely rare that a patient with having suffered such extensive trauma to the brain should survive.
"However, critical care and other specialist teams continued to support his systems through his critical period and we were delighted to see Steven recover and make progress against all the odds.
"He is truly a unique case."