Campaign launched to help Sunderland dad left paralysed in horror fall

John and Jennifer
John and Jennifer
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The family of a dad who broke his neck in a tragic fall are appealing to bring him home.

John Lindsay’s life hung in the balance after he fell backwards down the stairs at his Silksworth home when he suffered an epileptic seizure.

John with daughter Jennifer, son Jon, and wife Claire.

John with daughter Jennifer, son Jon, and wife Claire.

The 44-year-old dad-of-two was rushed to Newcastle’s RVI hospital where he was placed in intensive care and underwent surgery to stabilise the break in his neck.

The former kitchen salesman spent months on a ventilator, only able to communicate by blinking, and his family feared he may be paralysed from the neck down as they sat by his bedside in James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, where he was moved to a specialist spinal injury unit.

In the months since the accident in August, he has regained some mobility above the waist and is able to talk but the dad has been left requiring a wheelchair to get around and round-the-clock-care for his neurological needs.

After making the daily 50-mile round trip to Middlesbrough for the past six months, including Christmas Day spent in hospital, his family and friends have launched an appeal to help bring him home.

John and Claire.

John and Claire.

Wife Claire, 38, mum to the couple’s daughter Jennifer, nine, said: “It’s been six months now and all we want is for him to come home. Our little girl misses her dad.”

The couple’s semi-detached home is not suitable for John’s requirements and the only grant offered to the couple was £1,000 from the council to build a fake wall to create an area of the living room for John to live in.

Determined to give John, who is also dad to Jon Weirs, 17, the home he deserves, friends and family have launched a campaign, under the title #BringJohnHome, to help pay for the family to move to a specially-adapted bungalow.

“Having John live in half a living room is no life,” said Claire. “The only other option offered to us was residential care, but he’s only 44, that’s no place for him to be. He should be with his family.”

John with friends Derek Bolton and John Lish who are leading the fundraising campaign.

John with friends Derek Bolton and John Lish who are leading the fundraising campaign.

She added: “We had hoped to get John home in early January but his seizures play a massive part in holding him back. Even when he does come home, his needs are so complex he will require round-the-clock care, but it’s where he belongs.”

The fall in August was a double blow to the family who had already feared for John’s life ten years ago when an undiagnosed virus caused a bleed on his brain.

“He went from being a working man with no health problems to collapsing at home one day and being on life support,” said Claire who was pregnant with Jennifer at the time.

“He was in an induced coma for three weeks and when he did come round he was like a different person. He suffered short-term memory loss and thought he could remember things from his childhood, he couldn’t remember that I was pregnant, which was heartbreaking, and a huge shock to all of us.

“It was very hard to take.”

The couple had been engaged to be married that spring, but the wedding had to be postponed as John spent five months in hospital.

When he returned home, his seizures were so severe he was unable to return to work at his successful kitchen showroom in Sea Road, Fulwell, and Claire, who had worked alongside him, devoted herself to becoming his full-time carer.

They got on with their life, marrying in May 2009, but always with the shadow of John’s memory loss and seizures, which have caused broken bones and further bleeds on the brain over the years.

It was the permanent effects of the incident ten years ago which caused the life-changing fall last August.

Claire recalls: “We’d been out that day and we’d had a good family day at the park. John had gone upstairs and had a seizure as he went upstairs causing him to fall backwards against a wall.

“All we heard was this loud bang, but thankfully we were here as he’d stopped breathing. After what happened ten years ago, we never thought anything like that would happen again. But the support we’ve had is amazing. Sometimes I just want to sit and cry and we have done that, but we need to keep going for John, we just want him home.”

• To donate to John’s fundraising visit http://bringjohnhome.co.uk/