Leighton Buzzard man’s remarkable recovery after devastating brain injury caused by street attack

Two years ago David Maloney ran the London Marathon for the first time, raising over £6,000 for The National Brain Appeal.

The achievement was even greater considering this was his first attempt at running and that a few years earlier he suffered a life-threatening head injuries after he was attacked by a group of men on Watford High Street on his way home from celebrating his 23rd birthday.

David, 31, from the Grovebury area of Leighton Buzzard, loved the marathon so much he hasn’t stopped running since. On Monday, May 27 he ran the Vitality London 10,000, again to raise money for The National Brain Appeal who support the hospital that saved his life, the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, the UK’s leading centre of excellence for treating diseases of the brain, spine and nervous system.

David, who is an operations manager for a wine distribution company, said: “Nine years ago I was in intensive care with my family being told I may not survive.

“Thanks to the incredible staff at The National Hospital I did. Running has been a fantastic discovery for me. I’d never thought about it before until I was looking for ways to raise money for The National Brain Appeal to show my gratitude to the doctors and nurses who saved my life.”

In 2010, David and a friend were on their way home from a night out when he was attacked. He has no memory of the attack, for which one man was convicted.

He was left deeply unconscious and not moving so his friend called for help. He had a severe brain injury, scored as GCS3 on the Glasgow Coma Scale, the lowest possible score.

Paramedics rushed him to Watford General Hospital who took over David’s breathing by putting him on a ventilator. They then transferred him on blue lights to specialist brain and spine hospital, The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in Queen Square, London. His father, Billy, went with him in the ambulance. David’s younger brother Lee drove himself and their mother Ann to the hospital.

It was terrifying for David’s parents and his brother. His father Billy said: “We were called by the police in the early hours and told to rush to A&E. I still feel sick to my stomach when I think about it now. David was unconscious and so battered and bruised he was barely recognisable.”

His mother Ann said: “We were told by the doctors at The National Hospital that they had to keep David in an induced coma to protect his brain. At first we were just focused on David surviving but the doctors also had to prepare us for the impact of the damage to his brain if he did survive.

“When they woke David up from the coma we were so relieved, but the seriousness of his head injuries meant he had a very long road to recovery. Leaving hospital was just the start really.”

David had a skull fracture at the back of his head with severe bleeding and bruising in two areas of his brain from a contra-coup injury, where his brain had rebounded within his skull with the force of the impact.

He was kept in an induced coma in intensive care for around 36 hours. David went home a week after the attack but needed long-term neuro-rehabilitation for severe memory and balance problems, issues with concentration, fatigue and dizziness.

These debilitating symptoms continued for many years. He also had to surrender his driving licence until he was assessed as medically fit to drive again.

David had just qualified as a plumber at the time of the attack but has had to give up on that profession.

He said: “I did try to go back to working as a plumber but I found that I could remember very little of what I’d spent two years learning in night school. It became too hard and I felt pretty useless.

“My boss had been very supportive and I’m very grateful to him for that. But I knew he had to run a business so in the end I called him to say that I thought it would be better for both of us if I called it a day. It was a tough decision to make.”

To start working towards a new career, David took a part-time job in a department store. He found the routine manageable and over a two year period worked towards becoming full-time. For the last three-and-a-half years David has worked for a wine merchant distribution centre where he is now the Operations Manager.

David, who recently bought his first home with his partner Jade, said: “I’ve had to come a long way. Life was a struggle day in day out for several years. I’m absolutely fine now and I can safely say now that I have had as full a recovery as I could have hoped for.”

He added: “I’ve definitely got the running bug now. Doing the London Marathon kicked that off and was a real turning point for me in my recovery. It was such an amazing experience, really life-affirming and life-changing. It got me back on my feet in more ways than one. I ran the Manchester Marathon last year and this will be my second time running the Vitality London 10,000 metres and to date I have raised £7000 for The National Brain Appeal.”

A fellow runner for The National Brain Appeal in the 2017 London Marathon, Mark Bentley, also caught the running bug. David and Mark have bonded over their love of running and desire to raise as much money as possible for The National Brain Appeal. Both ran the Vitality London 10,000 race last Monday.

The Vitality London 10,000 starts on The Mall and finishes opposite Buckingham Palace. The course passes many of London’s famous sights including Admiralty Arch, Nelson’s Column, St Paul’s Cathedral, Mansion House, the Bank of England, the Old Bailey, Somerset House, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.

David’s partner Jade was there to cheer him on with their four year old niece Edith. He said: “It was Edith’s first trip to London. She was very excited to go on the ‘choo choo’ and see the Queen’s house!”

Hid dad Billy, mum Ann, who is recovering from treatment for breast cancer, were also there on the day along with David’s brother Lee.

To support David’s fundraising for The National Brain Appeal go to: justgiving.com/fundraising/david-maloney1