A moment of distraction while driving almost cost Khan his life.
On the evening of May 6, Khan was driving back to the Reporoa farm where he worked and lived. The 21-year-old knew the route well but as he approached Wairakei, his attention shifted causing him to lose control of his Mazda, which left the road, skidded across a paddock and started rolling uncontrollably. The roof collapsed on impact shooting the farm assistant out of his car, sliding him metres through the paddock.
Local residents heard the almighty crash and phoned an ambulance, then made their way to the scene. After searching the road, the neighbour eventually found the accident trail which had demolished the paddock and “looked like a herd of cows had run through”. Once he saw the crushed car and Khan’s battered body, the neighbour was convinced the unconscious young man wouldn’t survive in the freezing -2 degrees.
Swift air transport by the Greenlea Rescue Helicopter to Taupo Hospital was crucial to stabilise the critically injured and hypothermic patient. Urgent specialist treatment was vital, and the Greenlea Rescue Helicopter flew Khan to Waikato Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.
Unaware of the accident, Khan’s partner Vicky was worried he hadn’t returned home and called his mobile several times. Eventually, a police officer answered Khan’s phone and advised Vicky her partner had been in an accident. Arriving at her home, Police explained the extent of Khan’s injuries. Distraught, Vicky phoned Khan’s parents Ann and Bruce, who immediately made the long drive from Palmerston North to Hamilton to be by his side.
Khan suffered horrific injuries. The brutal crash broke his jaw, injured his spleen, liver, lungs, shoulder and broke his ribs piercing the back of his heart. The violent tumble battered Khan’s head causing acute brain trauma. Surgeons later told Khan’s family that his survival was a miracle.
Khan underwent surgery for his extensive injuries which included a brain bleed, torn heart and collapsed lung. Khan’s family were advised there was only a 50/50 chance of survival. Attended by an Orthopaedic surgeon, Cardiologist and a Neurosurgeon, the invasive operation lasted over five hours including stitches to half of Khan’s heart.
Khan remained in an induced coma for three weeks. Once conscious, despite the obvious physical injuries, deeper harm became apparent. Khan’s brain trauma had affected his memory, temporarily causing him to forget vital details, people and places.
Doctors advised Khan should expect to be in the hospital for at least four months and would also have difficulty walking again. Despite structured rehabilitation Khan thought four months was far too long. Stubborn and optimistic, Khan gradually taught himself to walk.
Only seven weeks later, Khan was strong enough to leave Waikato Hospital and was flown in his first-ever aeroplane flight, by the Westpac Air Ambulance to Wellington Hospital, bringing him closer to family in Palmerston North.
Khan knows the road to full recovery will be long and is eternally grateful to be saved from death thanks to the neighbours and the swift actions of the Greenlea Rescue Helicopter medics and emergency services.