My wife Amanda is a keen marathon runner, but she’s been off the circuit for 5 years due to child-rearing duties! This weekend marks her return to pounding the pavement. She’s doing the full Melbourne marathon on Sunday October 12th, and in doing so is fundraising for an organisation that is in some ways related to Emergency medicine and trauma, and is very close to our hearts. Please read on, and consider donating.
In 2006, I worked for 6 months as the Clinical Forensic Medicine Registrar at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (VIFM). This job involved seeing “live” people with forensic issues, often victims and occasionally perpetrators of assaults, to document their injuries and take forensic samples. One case stuck a particular chord with me – the night I was called by the Police to come into the Melbourne CBD to examine a young man who was covered in blood after he and his friend had been assaulted, late on a Saturday night.
This was the friend of James Macready-Bryan James had been the victim of a “king-hit” (now appropriately referred to as a “coward punch”), while out celebrating his 20th birthday in the city. He was hit once, but was struck with such force that he fell to the ground striking his head, knocking him unconscious. He then went into cardiac arrest. The friend that was with him, who I was called to see, was covered in blood from James’ head injury – from performing mouth to mouth on him as instructed over the phone by the 000 operator.
This was James before the attack
James survived, but rather than returning to university to complete his law degree, he is now severely and permanently disabled from a severe acquired brain injury requiring full time care. The random, senseless nature of this incident, and the frequency with which we see patients with similar injuries in the ED has stayed with me over the last 8 years.
I can still remember the night I was called out to see James’ friend. I remember the look of shock on his face, and I remember calling the hospital to get an update on James’ condition, and the sinking feeling I had when I spoke to the ED doctor who told me “he had a massive bleed, he went straight to theatre”, knowing full well from that limited amount information that his life, the lives of his friends and their families had just changed drastically for the worse, forever.
As James was the victim of an assault, and not injured at work or in a vehicle, there was no insurance or government funding to pay for his care. So his dad Andrew started the JMB Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation that raises funds, provides services for, and raises awareness of the many young Australians who suffer acquired brain injury each year, many of whom face life in a geriatric nursing home.
This is James now
I’ve since met with Andrew, and Helen Sykes, the Chair of the JMB Foundation, and I am now a volunteer member of their board, as their medical advisor. Their work to improve the lives of young people with acquired brain injury, through fundraising, provision of care and support services, and lobbying for the National Disability Insurance Scheme is amazing. The trauma course I’ve helped establish (The ETM Course) makes a donation of a portion of the funds from each course to the JMB foundation, in an effort to support the care of young people with acquired brain injury, as we feel this is directly related to our role in teaching medical practitioners about the acute management of traumatic brain injury on the ETM Course.
If you need convincing about this organisation’s worth, please watch this short 3-minute video, and I think you’ll see the value in donating to this cause.
Amanda is running this weekend in support of the JMB Foundation, and the marathon is the foundation’s major fundraising event for the year (you can read more about it here).
So I’m writing on behalf of James, his dad Andrew, the foundation and all of the families of those with acquired brain injuries to ask that you please consider making a donation, partly to encourage Amanda to finish the run, and more importantly to support the JMB Foundation. Every donation, no matter how small, will help improve the lives of young Australians with acquired brain injury.
$40 buys one hour of therapy. Therapy will decrease physical discomfort and can stimulate neural pathways to aid rehabilitation.
$140 buys half a day of Community access. Young people with acquired brain injury lose contact with their social networks and suffer in isolation.
$490 is enough to provide a week of day care respite for carers of a young person with high needs ABI.
Thanks for your time, and here’s the link to Amanda’s fundraising page if you’d like to donate.
Andy & Amanda Buck
(If you are reading this after the marathon has passed, you can still donate via the Everyday Hero Website).