Humberside

East Yorkshire soldier told he would lose his legs

Ben Bainbridge
Image caption Ben Bainbridge says he has no regrets about going to Afghanistan

A soldier whose legs were so badly injured in an explosion in Afghanistan that they were almost amputated has spoken of his fight to walk again.

Pte Ben Bainbridge, of Shiptonthorpe, East Yorkshire, was ambushed while on patrol with the Yorkshire Regiment in Helmand province on 7 January.

He was initially assessed as "a double amputee" but the swift actions of army medics in the field saved his limbs.

After eight operations the 19-year-old can walk around his home on crutches.

He hopes to walk unaided within a year.

Taliban ambush

During a break at home from the Headley Court rehabilitation centre in Surrey, he recalled the day he almost lost his life.

"We were just coming in back to our main base and then I got ambushed by the Taliban," he said.

"We'd taken cover in a ditch, then I took one step and that was me hit by a explosive, an IED."

The device, a missile attached to a command wire which was activated manually by the Taliban, shot through Pte Bainbridge's legs, causing devastating injuries.

A field medic told the young soldier he was going to lose both his legs.

Image caption Pte Ben Bainbridge [right] with an injured colleague

However, a medical team at the Camp Bastion base took a vein out of his right leg and put it into his more badly damaged left leg to maintain the blood flow long enough to allow the limb to be saved.

"They said I was supposed to be a double amputee, but luckily they saved my legs in Camp Bastion," said Pte Bainbridge. "

"Thank God, really. It's just amazing what they can do."

Within 48 hours he was being treated in intensive care at Birmingham's Selly Oak Hospital and then continued his rehabilitation at Headley Court.

Intensive care

"I was very lucky, especially as I had a collapsed lung as well and I was on a life support machine when I got to intensive care.

"When you look back and your mum and family tell you how you were because you don't know at the time. I was in a state."

One of Pte Bainbridge's femur bones has been replaced by a titanium rod and he has lost much of his muscle strength in his legs.

"I've been walking in the hydropool OK but I can only put 50% weight on it so I need crutches when I'm walking on the ground.

"I've still got a long way to go yet, I've still got plenty of operations to go through.

"But it's amazing when you see how I was bedbound, couldn't move and how I am now. It's great."

Despite his experience, Pte Bainbridge said he had "no regrets at all" about going to Afghanistan.

"I'm proud of doing it. It's something I've always wanted to do. You join the army knowing you're going to war."

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