South East Wales

Steelworker Michael Down sings with choir after horrific injuries

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Media captionMichael Down describes fellow choristers as his best friends

A steelworker who is lucky to be alive after suffering horrific injuries in an accident at work last year has performed again with his local choir.

Michael Down, of Kenfig Hill, Bridgend, clinically died before being revived after becoming tangled in a machine at Port Talbot steelworks in August 2012.

Fifteen months on, the 64-year-old tenor has just performed with Kenfig Hill and District Male Voice Choir.

His wife Carol said doctors were astounded by his recovery.

Mr Down, who is also known by the name Clive, has spent the last 12 months recuperating and is only able to walk using a frame.

He worked in the engineering shop at the steelworks repairing broken equipment, but in August last year a machine he was repairing unexpectedly started working.

He suffered severe injuries, including a triple skull fracture and a broken arm and leg. He was in a coma for around eight weeks.

If that was not enough, Mr Down suffered a stroke during a helicopter airlift to hospital because he had lost so much blood.

"I was on a large machine - I'm a fitter and turner by trade," he said.

"I don't know what happened but it knocked me unconscious and cut me into bits, gave me brain trouble and all sorts.

"I died once or twice in the helicopter that took us to Cardiff hospital. I was unconscious for about eight weeks and I broke my arm, my leg and my heart was uncovered, lots of different bits and pieces.

Image caption Choir chair Harold Phillips said its members were delighted to have Mr Down back

"I cannot remember a thing about the accident, of the day of the previous week, anything. I couldn't remember the names of the people working with me who I've worked with for years. I had a total loss of memory."

He said he was taken to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff following the accident and was later transferred to Swansea's Morriston Hospital for plastic surgery.

"My stomach was ripped out so they had to take the skin off my legs to make a new stomach and my heart was exposed and my lung was collapsed," he added.

He said his recovery had been tough and depressing but he had come through it with his "head up".

'Best friends'

Members of his choir are "on top of the world" to have him back singing.

"They're probably my best friends," Mr Down said.

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Media captionMale voice chorister Michael Downs performed in his first concert since suffering life threatening injuries

Thursday night's concert was at North Cornelly Community Centre, near Kenfig Hill, Bridgend, and raised money for local schools.

Choir chair Harold Phillips said its members were delighted to have Mr Down back.

"He only announced on Monday that he wanted to sing on Thursday," he said.

"He is quite a wit and keeps people smiling and we were delighted when he decided to come back and practice with us."

Mr Phillips said when Mr Down was in a coma a CD of the choir singing was played to him to "help bring him round".

"There wasn't much of him that wasn't damaged," added Mr Phillips.

"He shouldn't be alive but he is. We feared he would never sing with us again but he has.

"He's an inspiration to people who have suffered any sort of major injury."

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