A Leighton Buzzard bodybuilder who battled two strokes and horrific injuries following a motorbike accident is jumping back into action to trek across the Alps and raise £4,000 for the air ambulance crew that saved his life.
Andy Jay, 41, was involved in a 40mph head-on collision with a car on June 12, 2015 on the A4147 Hemel Hempstead link road.
The father-of-three had “two massive strokes” at the scene, suffering from a broken right femur and forearm, shattered right elbow, six broken ribs, vertebrae fractures, a punctured right lung, lacerations to his kidneys, pancreas and liver, a contusion to the spleen and a type A aortic dissection, being rushed to hospital by the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance.
Having since made a remarkable recovery - even seeing off pneumonia and sepsis - determined Andy is now taking on his Mont Blanc Alps trek from September 6 to 10, something that will not be an easy journey.
His wife, Sally, 44, remembers the day of the accident: “I was at home and about to go on a hen do, when two policemen pulled up on our drive.
“We were having a massive extension to our house, so I thought they were there to complain about all the earth outside!
“But one policeman took his hat off and I thought, ‘that’s not good...’
“The police said ‘Do you know this [Andy’s] number plate?’
“‘Is he dead?’ I said.
“ ‘No, but you need to come with us.’
“I replied by saying that I was going on a hen do; the police just told me that Andy had hurt his leg and arm - that was it. I didn’t think it was serious until they said they were going to blue light me. That’s not a leg and arm I thought - that’s something else.”
Andy had been taken to The Royal London Hospital and was fighting for his life, facing CT scans and surgery.
He was put into a coma for five days to allow his brain to recover, and afterwards moved to ICU for ten days, before being sent to a stroke ward and then repatriated to Milton Keynes Hospital on July 5.
However, when in Milton Keynes Andy caught pneumonia because of his collapsed lung and was transferred to Harefield Hospital on August 5 so that it could be reinflated.
Finally, the brave husband and father was moved back to Milton Keynes Hospital, where he faced a battle with sepsis - and all this before he was relocated to the stroke ward to begin the “slow” and “frustrating” of journey relearning to walk - and learning to write with his right hand instead of his left.
After standing up for the first time since the accident on August 12, courageous Andy was back home by October 30.
Sally said: “When Andy came round from the coma, he thought he had been in a spaceship and he told me about his nurse, Ella, who had been driving it.
“In the end, he was so fed up of having drugs, he refused anymore; when he was at Harefield he had an 18cm needle stuck into his lung without painkillers - but he said ‘it made me feel alive’.
“Meanwhile, during the time he was in hospital I was taking bits of the kitchen in - bits of worktop, bits of tiles - the staff must have thought I was bonkers, but I wanted Andy to be part of our rebuild.
“After he came back to Milton Keynes, I thought we’d end up in ICU again but he just focussed and thought, ‘right, I’m going to get myself working’.”
Now home in Leighton Buzzard, Andy has therapy and daily exercises.
The stroke has left him with weakness on his left hand side, meaning he relies on an ankle foot ortosis (AFO) to be able to walk because of foot drop, while he cannot use his left hand functionally.
However, nothing will stop Andy from helping the air ambulance, and the determined father will walk for eight to nine hours per day.
He said: “Many people may not be aware that the Air Ambulance is a charity that receives no government funding. The cost per mission is just over £2,700 that I hope to raise by taking part in the trek.
“This is going to be a tough challenge for me because of the disability I now have, but if people could please spare as much or little to this cause they will be helping to fund a mission and in turn helping to save somebody else’s life.”
Sally said: “The NHS staff were absolutely amazing - they absolutely saved his life 100 per cent.
“Andrew was a bodybuilder, 18 stone, and used to go to the gym every day - if he hadn’t been as big as he was he would have definitely have died.
“I want him to be able to trek and for his children to see that if you put your mind to it you can achieve anything. He’s overcome so many things and he’s still their dad.
“He had to give something back and I’m so proud of him doing this.”
Andy is now at Northampton University studying to be an occupational therapist, and he and Sally have three children: Harrison 17, Elleanor 14, and Matthiew 12. Andy’s dream is to open a gym in Leighton Buzzard which offers disabled facilities.
Thanks to the kindness of the community, Andy has increased his original target from £2,700 to £4,000. To donate, please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fund raising/andy-jay76.
Find out more about the challenge at https://ehaat.org/fundraise/master-mont-blanc