'They had to cut my face off to rebuild it'

A new research centre to enable medical techniques employed on the battlefield to be used on NHS patients has opened at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham.

One person who has been treated by medical techniques learnt from military surgeons at the hospital is Danny Yardley.

On 13 August 2008, he was cycling home from his job on the assembly line at LDV when a teenager stepped off the pavement into his path.

As they collided, Mr Yardley's head struck the back of the teenager's head before he hit the edge of the kerb, splitting his face open.

The impact fractured his lower jaw, upper jaw, nose, forehead and eye sockets - creating a pan-facial injury.

He also lost four teeth and a segment of bone from the lower jaw.

Mr Yardley, now 42, said the accident "changed his life overnight".

"The injuries were terrible and at first I wouldn't even allow my parents to see me.

"Then the operations started and gradually, after about three months, I could look in the mirror and see someone who actually looked like me again," he said.

Loss of tissue

Mr Yardley was admitted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham for head injury observation and scheduled for theatre with planning for the acute treatment carried out through 3D CT scanning.

Liaison with the maxillofacial technology lab assisted in surgery and ensured that the jaw could be reconstructed to allow new teeth to meet correctly.

The initial procedure repaired Mr Yardley's fractures but did not address the loss of tissue.

So he was subsequently readmitted for further surgery which enabled surgeons to place a distraction device in the lower jaw to help align the fracture.

Over the past two years Mr Yardley has undergone six operations and made 60 visits to hospital.

"Because my injuries were so serious and complex, they literally had to cut my face off to rebuild it: I was completely stripped down.

"At one point I had 58 staples in my head and so, to see how far I have come since then is amazing - a real tribute to all the expertise that has gone into putting me right," he said.


He said there had been "complications" but at "every stage there [had] been another expert with another procedure to deal with what's come up".

Maxillofacial consultant Mr Ian Sharp said the treatment "had brought together traditional and modern technologies and surgical techniques... and had resulted in complete restoration of function and aesthetics following severe facial injury".

For Mr Yardley, the accident was "life-changing".

Since it happened, he has undertaken a brain injury rehabilitation course and is hoping to secure funding to study occupational therapy.

"I have encountered some people along the way who have reacted negatively to my appearance while I was still recovering and the whole experience has changed me.

"But I've got my confidence back now and I feel like I'm ready to move on.

"That really is down to the expertise and technical know-how of the medical teams, plus the support I've had from my wife and my son," he said.

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