Motorcyclist Andy Robinson has plenty to remind him of the crash which nearly claimed his life – the 13 metal plates and 52 screws holding his face together.
The accident which occurred while Mr Robinson was off-road biking with pals in Grizedale Forest in the Lake District left him in a coma for a fortnight.
His life was saved by a n emergency blood transfusion administered at the scene by Great North Ambulance paramedics.
The head trauma, caused by Mr Robinson, 48, colliding with another rider’s crash helmet was so severe he had to be given animal tranquiliser ketamine because morphine was not strong enough to ease his pain.
He collided head-to-head with a pal as they rode their bikes off-road.
Mr Robinson’s crash helmet was destroyed by the impact, his left eye socket was moved an inch, his chin was crushed and his nose almost severed.
He stopped breathing at least three times during the treatment.
One leg was smashed from the knee downward, with around 15 fractures, and is now held together with screws, rods, and wire.
He suffered numerous broken facial bones.
He lost teeth, had a dislocated eye socket, and a broken chin, had broken ribs, and suffered nerve damage to his right arm.
But father-of-two Mr Robinson, of Kiln Lane, Hambleton, defied the odds by returning to work just weeks after the accident.
However, his wife Sharon has banned him from ever riding a motorcycle again.
He said: “There were 12 people working on me from two helicopters. My wife was told to expect the worst. It was pretty grim.
“The doctors said that if it wasn’t for the blood on the air ambulance I wouldn’t be here today.”
Mr Robinson, who works as an aircraft engineer in Manchester, added: “My chest was so full of blood that my lungs wouldn’t inflate, so they had to push two holes into my ribcage and squeeze all the blood out, then give me a transfusion right there on the forest floor.
“I died several times over the three hours when I stopped breathing.
“Just before the helicopter took off with me in it, the paramedics told my friends that, after so many things had gone wrong, they were pretty certain I wouldn’t make it to hospital.”
He did not regain full consciousness for two weeks and and cannot remember anything about the accident in May last year.
Andrew spent six weeks in Royal Preston Hospital.
His friend suffered more serious injuries and was in a coma for six months.
He said: “Two weeks later, I woke up. I don’t remember any of that time.
“All I knew was that I couldn’t speak, I was all tubes and morphine.
“I didn’t look in a mirror, so I didn’t know how bad it was, but my face was smashed up and twisted until they operated, a week or so later.
“My wife asked the surgeon to make me look like Jason Statham – he didn’t appreciate the joke.
“It wasn’t until a checkup, after coming home from hospital, that I saw an x-ray.”
The X-ray after surgery showed that a complex network of screws and plates had been used by surgeons to rebuild his face.
The only lasting legacy from his operation is a click when he opens his mouth.
Now he is backing NHS Blood and Transplant’s Missing Type appeal for young people to register as new blood donors at www.blood.co.uk.
More than half of blood donors are now aged over 45 and the number of people registering as new donor’s has dropped by 24 per cent over 10 years.
He was a blood donor himself as a younger man, though he can no longer donated now that he has had a blood transfusion.
He said: “The more people that donate the better. Blood donation saved my life.
“I do stand back and remember that I’m only here thanks to blood given by strangers.
“I now help promote blood donation, because the NHS needs new donors, especially those who are O negative.
“They are known as universal donors; their blood can be given to anyone, regardless of blood group, which is crucial in an accident like mine, when there is no time to do a test.
“Before this happened, I thought I was the man of the family.
“Now it is obvious that my wife is top of the tree.
“She showed incredible resilience while I was unconscious – for four days, they couldn’t tell her if I would live or die. She went through all that trauma while looking after our two kids.
“I’ll never go off-road biking again, and my 10-year-old boy isn’t allowed his kids’ motorbike any more.
“But every now and then I’ll be driving through the countryside and I’ll pass a track weaving off into the mountains, and I’ll get this ache in my chest. It’s the urge to get my gloves and boots back on and find out where it goes.”