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Miracle on the day my son 'died'

PUBLISHED: 18:00 16 December 2002 | UPDATED: 13:12 03 March 2010

EACH day Veronica Gammell gives thanks for the miracle she says saved her son Dave's life.

The mother-of-five today told how the 21-year-old 'died' on the operating table after he suffered massive head injuries when he plunged 40ft between two containers on a ship at Ipswich Port.

EACH day Veronica Gammell gives thanks for the miracle she says saved her son Dave's life.

The mother-of-five today told how the 21-year-old 'died' on the operating table after he suffered massive head injuries when he plunged 40ft between two containers on a ship at Ipswich Port.

But Mrs Gammell believes the skill of medical teams and the support of family and friends somehow gave her son the strength to pull through.

"He can talk but he's still not 100 per cent, it could take six months," said Mrs Gammell, of Sheldrake Drive, Ipswich.

"So many people are willing him on to get well."

Mrs Gammell vividly recalls the day she was told that Dave's life hung in the balance.

At 3.50pm on November 8 her phone rang and she was told he was dying in Ipswich Hospital after his fall.

Mrs Gammell rang the priest at her church St Mark's Church in Hawthorn Drive as she had no transport to get to the hospital.

"Father Michael Ryan took me to the hospital and when we arrived, he (Dave) was just inside the door," she said. "They were working on him, there was a big pipe out of his mouth, I was totally shocked, I thought he was dying.

"The nurse said they had to move him straight away to Addenbrooke's. I travelled down with him and he was operated on right away.

"He was in a bad way and they said he wouldn't make it the night.

"He did die in the operating theatre but they did bring him back. It was very tense.

"He was in a coma for days, I stayed until two or three in the morning talking about the army because hearing is the last to go when your in a coma. It was such a horrible time, we didn't know whether we were coming or going."

Dave suffered massive head injuries, where his brain slightly shifted inside his skull, which is medically known as a mid-line shift, broken ribs and back pain after his accident.

The former soldier has now returned to Ipswich Hospital and is being let out for a few hours each day to speed up his recovery.

His head is still swathed in bandages and he is still waiting for another operation to replace part of his skull which was removed during previous surgery.

"It's good that he's with us for Christmas, it's a miracle," said Mrs Gammell.

"He's progressing slowly, he's not well yet. The brain is a complex machine, it takes time to mend."

The accident has left the whole family traumatised by Mrs Gammell said Dave's identical twin brother Joseph was particularly devastated by what happened.

Dave spent four years in the army in the East Anglian Regiment as a private where he served in the Ukraine and Northern Ireland. He was the first to sign up for the regiment when he was 17.

The Ipswich Athletic football club player, was planning to take a career break from the army and spend a year in America with friends. He was working at the port to earn some extra money so that he could go on the trip.

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