A WOMAN whose life was left hanging in the balance after a road accident has been reunited with the man who saved her.
Damita-Jo Loreilhe was in a coma for nearly four months and had to re-learn the most basic of tasks after being struck by a car on Chester Road, Sunderland.
Today, the 36-year-old has held a fund-raising party to mark the 20th anniversary of the accident and to thank, once again, the off-duty nurse who saved her life.
Quick-thinking Jonathan Coombes received a national Heart of Gold award after performing first aid at the scene, actions which hospital doctors later said ensured the Washington schoolgirl’s survival.
Jonathan was one of the invited guests to the anniversary event, along with Professor David Mendelow, who helped Damita-Jo to recover.
Damita-Jo, who grew up in Rickleton, said: “I was staying at my friend’s house and we’d been celebrating our GCSE results when the accident happened.
“We were crossing at one of those green man crossings.
“A bus had stopped which gave us the impression that the lights had changed and we crossed.
“I was hit by a car in the other lane which left me with a brain stem injury, a shattered right leg and broken left leg.”
Damita-Jo was rushed to Sunderland Royal Hospital before being transferred to a specialist neuroscience unit at Newcastle General Hospital.
“I was in a coma for 14-and-a-half weeks,” she explained.
“When I woke up from the coma I had to learn to walk and talk again, I didn’t even know my times table.”
Despite her ordeal, Damita-Jo went on to gain good A-levels at La Sagesse in Newcastle and studied English and media studies at Trinity and All Saints College, Leeds University.
Now living in Wardley, Gateshead, she works as a business analyst for the civil service, but has little memory of her life before the accident.
“Without Jonathan, the doctors and nurses, and my friends and family I wouldn’t be here today,” she said.
“I am lucky to be alive.”
The 20th anniversary party, held at The Westwood Club, Washington, raised £1,500 for The Northern Brainwave Appeal which helps people who have suffered head injury.
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