Parents' vigil as son fights for life

A COUPLE whose son is clinging to life after suffering horrific injuries in a road accident have today opened their hearts on a living nightmare that has lasted close to a month.

A COUPLE whose son is clinging to life after suffering horrific injuries in a road accident have today opened their hearts on a living nightmare that has lasted close to a month.

Gislingham carpenter Dean Atwell, 31, has been through several critical operations since his motorbike collided with a van in Bacton on June 9.

His life was dramatically saved at Papworth Hospital on June 10 following more than 20 hours of heart surgery.

He was then saved a second time by a team at Addenbrooke's Hospital on June 13 who were forced to amputate his leg after it lost circulation and began poisoning his body.

Other injuries include kidney damage, lung problems as well as several breaks.

Doctors have warned Dean's parents, Glyn and Sandy, he is not out of the woods yet.

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Speaking to The Evening Star, Mrs Atwell said her family was running on empty following a bedside vigil that has so far lasted almost a month.

She said: “We have almost lost him four times.

“When we got the call that he had been involved in an accident we had just arrived on holiday in Turkey. I felt numb.

“I couldn't take it all in and being thousands of miles away when your child needs you most is indescribable. It is all out of your hands.

“We have not got much sleep at all since the accident because every time you wake up you are in an instant panic.

“He is not out of the woods yet but he is fighting.

“He is here against all the odds.”

Mr Atwell said the family owed everything to a brilliant surgeon at Papworth Hospital, Dr Steven Tsui, whose surgical initiative rescued Dean from the brink of death.

When Dean arrived at Papworth on the day of the accident a team of surgeons operated on him but after six hours a main artery burst while he was on the operating table.

Mr Atwell said: “The first team of surgeons had done all they could and were ready to give up when they found Dr Tsui who brought his team in.

“After 14 hours they had saved my boy's life which was amazing.”

However there were complications involved with the procedure. The surgeons took a vein from Dean's leg to repair the damaged artery and as a result the blood supply to his leg had stopped.

This meant his muscles were dying and releasing a poison that threatened Dean's life once again.

“It was his leg or his life and he had emergency surgery to amputate his leg above the knee,” Mr Atwell said.

Doctors have told Dean's parents his condition is slowly improving, although he faces at least another year in hospital.

His struggle is currently being made worse as he is suffering morphine withdrawal symptoms after being given the drug as a painkiller.

He is now conscious but cannot speak due to a tracheotomy and it is unclear whether he has sustained any long-term damage.

Mr Atwell said: “It is his spirit, resilience and character that have got him this far. He is a fighter.”


AN entire community is rallying around the Atwells with a campaign already underway to raise money for a state-of-the-art prosthetic limb.

Friends of Dean, who is a popular figure in Stowmarket and surrounding villages, will be taking part in a sponsored fancy dress fun run on Sunday, July 23 as they bid to generate £35,000 to send him to America to have a new limb fitted.

One of Dean's best friends, Rick Brown, of Hitcham, said: “The NHS would be able to fit him with a leg which will get him up and about but we want to get him a leg that he can run on and do sport on.

“He deserves the best.

“This is the first of many charity events we will be doing.”

Another friend, Sheila Wasey, 28, of Oldfield Road, Ipswich, said that so far more than 60 people were taking part in the fun run.

Ms Wasey said: “He is a very popular guy and knows a lot of people in the Stowmarket area.

“People care about him and want to help him.

“He is friendly, fun, considerate and just a well-loved man.

“Nobody can quite believe this has happened.”

Anyone wanting to get involved in the fun run or make a donation to Dean's fund is asked to contact Sheila Wasey on 07980 080825.

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