Injured jockey with 3% chance of survival returns to racing

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  • Two years after a life-threatening fall, jump jockey Brian Toomey has regained his jockeys licence.

    Brian suffered serious head injuries in a fall on 4 July 2013 at Perth racecourse.

    Last month Brian told H&H he was determined to race-ride again (feature, Bouncing Back, 28 May), and today (8 June) the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) confirmed that he been relicensed.

    brian toomey1After the fall the rider was placed in an induced coma for two weeks and had part of his skull removed in an operation. He remained in hospital for 157 days.

    “It’s been a long road back but the one thing that has driven me throughout my recovery, and the main thing that has kept me going, was a desire to be a jockey again, and I am delighted that I’ve been cleared to ride by Dr Hill.

    “Following the accident, the paramedics said that I was dead for six seconds, but they managed to resuscitate me. Then when I made it to the hospital they thought that I only had a 3% chance of survival.

    “Now here I am, two years on, ready to race ride again.

    “I know there will be people who will say I’m mad to want to come back but it’s been my dream since I was a boy to be a jockey and it’s a job and life I love, and I was absolutely determined that, if I couldn’t make it back, it wouldn’t be through a lack of effort on my part.

    Brian had to pass tests and assessments with neurosurgeons to determine fitness to ride, ability to control a horse safely and the risk of further injury if he were to fall.

    Dr Jerry Hill, chief medical adviser for the BHA, said: “The safety of our competitors is paramount in British horseracing and we have a duty as far as is possible to ensure any returning jockey is fit to safely control his horse and that he and his family understands the risks that he or she may be taking in race riding. Brian has shown through his medical assessments and physical tests that he is fit to ride again.

    “The fact that Brian is still alive is a testament to the first class medical care which exists on British racecourses. It is very likely that the team of doctors at Perth, with their rapid and decisive response, saved Brian’s life. To now be returning to ride again in Britain two years on, and having met all of the demanding criteria required of him to do so, is a quite remarkable story and an illustration of his determination and bravery.”

    Brian added: “Just in surviving and overcoming all that I have been through I feel I have won the biggest and most important race of my life, and anything else is a bonus. I’m going to take my time and work on my fitness before taking my first ride. That’s the next target to aim for and I’ll give it my all to get there.

    “I hope what I’ve been through can serve as an inspiration for others who injure themselves and are told that they might never return to doing what they love. Work hard and never give up and you just never know what could happen.”

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