Hearts of gold helped heal car crash trauma

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When David Harrington came around a bend on his way to work in Invercargill in – he was blissfully unaware this was the moment his life would change forever.

In the early hours of the morning on August 13 2020, David’s car collided head-on with a cow loose on the road, breaking every bone in his face, including his jaw.

He was urgently flown to Dunedin Hospital where he underwent a nine and a half hour facial reconstruction operation, followed by a two month stay.

He credits Southern DHB staff, including the emergency response, trauma, surgical teams and specialists for his recovery.

“They were magnificent, absolutely fantastic. I’m just so pleased to have had my surgery and rehabilitation in the Dunedin and Southland Hospitals,” says David. “I wouldn’t have received the customised support if I wasn’t down here in the South. The staff have hearts of gold.”

His wife Kelly, fondly referred to by David as “the million dollar lady” was by his side throughout. “Kelly is a nurse herself, so she helped me in every way you could imagine. There were a lot of long nights and I couldn’t ask for a better person.”

David was particularly grateful for being able to go home earlier than planned.

“I was feeling terribly homesick and the staff really listened and responded, coming up with a plan for my early release.”

Just over a year and a half later, the journey to recovery has been a long one, but with hard work, patience and a heavy dose of determination, David is optimistic about the future.

“There are parts of my brain that still haven’t healed, which can be frustrating,” says David.

“I know Ihave to be patient and I’m always the optimist. I can still give my grandchildren a hug and say hello to friends.”

A member of the Gore Community Church, David’s ordeal has strengthened his faith in God and the power of love. “Life is life and love really does melt everything away.”