Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

First XI (Plus One) Who Saved Cricket Ball Boy

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

First XI (Plus One) Who Saved Cricket Ball Boy

Article excerpt

WHEN James Yeaman was critically injured by a stray cricket ball on his 14th birthday, a dramatic chain of events unfolded that saved his life.

Doctors said a delay of even a few seconds could have been fatal.

But from the school nurse, who realised how serious his injuries were, to the surgeon who cut a hole in his skull to remove a blood clot, every step went like clockwork.

James was hit by the ball during lunchtime cricket practice at Jo Richardson Community School in Dagenham.

"We were throwing and catching but someone accidentally threw it too hard," said James.

"The boy in front of me ducked but I didn't see it coming. I can remember being hit and falling over and I remember getting up and walking into school where they gave me an ice pack. I can also remember being carried into the helicopter but after that Idon't remember anything until I woke up in hospital." James's mother Jacqui, 42, a volunteer at the school, had been about to take him to hospital by car when the school welfare officer, Lynne O'Keefe, noticed James's pupils were dilated and dialled 999.

Paramedic Jason Owen said: "If he'd gone to his local hospital, he would almost certainly have died that's how important Ms O'Keefe was.

"Within a minute of arriving, I radioed for the air ambulance..

It was the worst job I have done in 18 years, I think partly because it was James's birthday." By this time, James had collapsed again and was vomiting..

He was airlifted to the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, where a paediatric critical care unit had opened days before, so all the specialists were in place.

The cricket ball had burst a blood vessel in James's head, causing a huge clot to expand under his skull, pressing on his brain. "Every minute counted and at any point James's brain injury could have become catas- trophic," said Dr Gareth Davies, air ambulance consultant and medical director. Untreated, the clot would have squeezed James's brain out through the base of his skull. …

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