Warning from woman left brain damaged after binge accident

Jacqueline Bromly

Jacqueline Bromly

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IT was supposed to be a routine trip to the cash machine to get more money for drinks at the pub as part of a 15-hour boozing session.

For Jacqueline Bromly, however, it was to prove a life-changing journey – after she was hit by a taxi and spent a month in a coma on life-support machines.

Jacqueline, 24, said she was “dead for two minutes” when her heart stopped and she was left with horrific injuries.

As she begins to put her life back together after months in hospital, she spoke out in the Evening News to warn others of the danger of drinking to excess and admitted she had not touched alcohol since.

She said: “I had just nipped out of the pub to get more money from the ATM. It nearly cost me my life.”

Jacqueline had been drinking “excessively” with work colleagues in and around York Place on the day of the accident in July last year when she was knocked down by the black cab at 1.55am – having been on a “binge for about 15 hours”. No blame was attached to the driver.

She was taken to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary with serious head injuries before being transferred to the Western General Hospital, under police escort, to its specialist brain injury unit.

The former Portobello and Holyrood High School pupil, who lives in West Pilton, suffered two massive brain haemorrhages and underwent two four-hour operations on her brain within 24 hours of the accident.

After slipping into a coma, she spent a month on a life support machine in intensive care at the Western General. She has been left with brain damage and speech problems and regularly sees a psychologist.

“I had a serious head injury and brain trauma,” she said. “I had two burst blood vessels in my brain which swelled my head right up.

“When I went down into theatre for the second operation, my heart stopped beating – I died for two minutes – but the crash team shocked me and got my heart going again.

“During the surgery they cut a bit of my skull off and blocked the blood vessels that were bleeding, and then put that part of my skull back in. That’s why I’ve got a horrendous scar on my head.”

Jacqueline’s distraught parents, Helen, 50, and Alan, 54, and her siblings were told she had a 50 per cent chance of survival.

The former Jewel & Esk College student said doctors had also explained they would have to consider switching off her life support machine if she took “longer than anticipated” to wake from the coma.

“They were devastated,” said Jacqueline. “When I woke up I suffered paralysis from the neck down and couldn’t move or do anything. Even now I can’t do certain tasks, I can only do little jobs and slight exercise.”

Jacqueline, who lived in Morningside as a youngster, added: “I can’t think the way I used to be able to think. There is some form of brain damage.”

On top of this, she is now prone to taking “terrifying fits and blackouts”, and has already experienced two since leaving the Astley Ainslie Hospital – where she spent the final month of her time in hospital, which spanned almost three months – in September last year.

Doctors have informed her it will be one to two years before she can return to her cleaning job at Asda in Leith.

Recalling the accident last summer, Jacqueline said: “I checked the road in both directions and I thought it was clear, so I just stepped out and then this taxi seemed to come out of nowhere and bang, hit me.

“I was knocked right out. I had tried to move out of the way but my head went forward and the taxi caught my head.”

Although she feels “lucky” to be alive, she said what happened had “shocked and scared” her and she is now warning young people to drink sensibly.

“Drink to a point where you’re still fully aware of what’s going on on the roads,” she said. “Don’t make the same mistake that I have made. I’m just having to look forward and I’m trying to inspire youngsters to have a limit and not to drink over their limit, because you just don’t know what could happen on a night out.

“The accident has put me off going out drinking, I haven’t touched a drink since then. I was out every weekend before the accident but now I just steer clear of all bars. I go to the pictures or bowling instead.”

Jacqueline still sees a physiotherapist at the Astley Ainslie Hospital around twice a week, and also receives speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy.