East Lothian schoolboy lucky to be alive after skiing accident in Switzerland

An East Lothian schoolboy has miraculously survived suffering a serious head injury in a horrific skiing accident in Switzerland.

Tuesday, 5th February 2019, 12:31 pm
Updated Tuesday, 5th February 2019, 12:37 pm
Nicholas was in a coma for almost four days.
Nicholas was in a coma for almost four days.

Nicholas Guest was knocked unconscious after banging his head on the ground while landing a jump in the Swiss resort of Saas-Fee, near the Italian border.

On impact the 17-year-old cracked his safety helmet, which undoubtedly saved his life.

Despite coming round minutes later, Nicholas was airlifted to a local hospital where a CT scan identified the teenager had suffered a bleed to the brain.

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Nicholas Guest, who suffered a serious head injury in a ski accident.

It was while being transferred to a bigger hospital in the Swiss town of Sion when the Preston Lodge High School pupil fell into a coma.

His distraught mum Marian admitted to fearing the worst for her youngest child when she received the phone call from his friends telling her what had happened.

She said: “We were informed almost immediately by the friends he was with.

“He came round and he actually made a video of himself and we could see his face.

His close family rushed to Switzerland to be at his bedside.

“He was telling us what happened but then went in and out of consciousness. He then deteriorated and went into a deep coma.

“Your first reaction is ‘oh no, not him’. He’s the youngest of my six children and we’re all really close.

“I needed to be with him but I couldn’t get there until the Friday because my passport had run out. His brothers and sisters flew out the next morning on the first flight.

“We didn’t know at this stage if he was ever going to wake up. We just thought someone needed to be there if he does wake up. It was all uncertain.

He was airlifted from the site and continued to drop in and out of consciousness as he was rushed to hospital.

“The doctors said we should come out and you think it’s the end.”

Nicholas underwent surgery, with doctors continuing to monitor the pressure on his brain. He woke up after almost four days surrounded by close family including mum Marian, as well as siblings, John, Charles, Theresa, Lizzy and her fiancé Daniel.

Marian said: “They kept him in an induced coma and they just monitored him from there.

“It was quite traumatic as he was on life support. When he came around he couldn’t speak properly or use his body properly. Soon enough we knew he could remember things and he was making gestures for us to look on his phone.”

Mum Marian and brother John with Nicholas in hospital.

Last week the snow sports fanatic was flown back to Scotland by air ambulance and is currently recovering at Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital. Despite a rough few days on his return to Lothian, the Preston Lodge RFC under-18s second row is beginning to show slight improvement.

He is having speech and eye therapy as well as undergoing physiotherapy as he steps up his rehabilitation, but the family is under no illusion that there is a long road to recovery.

It remains unclear when he will be able to return home, although Marian has said Nicholas has set himself the target of within three months.

She added that she hoped the incident, on January 15, would not impact on her son’s aspiration of becoming an RAF fighter pilot.

“He still has a bruise on the brain but it’s not active and it just has to heal itself,” said Marian. “He still has expanded water pockets on the brain. It’s been a long haul.

“He has got the great news yesterday that he is now able to use a wheelchair. Up to now he has been bed ridden so that is a major milestone for him.

Many people who know Nicholas and his family have been very supportive and have offered to help out financially.

“When medically discharged he will go to Astley Ainslie Hospital for full rehab and then we hope he can make a full recovery.

“Being back in Scotland is helping with his recovery. He can speak with staff no problem. His rugby friends come and see him every day and that’s a huge boost for him.

“He’s really determined to get better which is a real positive in the recovery process.”

A GoFundMe page was set up by Lizzy’s fiancé, Daniel Hunter, to help cover the costs of the family rushing to Nicholas’ bedside.

More than £4,200 has been raised online while pupils at Preston Lodge High School raised £340 at a coffee morning. Preston Lodge RFC also hosted a raffle and donated the proceeds to the cause and Marian admits to being left overwhelmed by the community’s support.

She said: “It’s phenomenal that people are supporting us. Switzerland is not a cheap place to go and some of the family members did not get paid while they were there.

“We can’t thank people enough. They really have gone out of their way.

“People all over the world are praying for Nicholas and he genuinely is so grateful.

“In his own words, ‘if at all I’m going to get better, I’ll do it for all of you because you’ve all been fantastic’.”

Make a donation at gofundme.com/support-for-nicolas

A GoFundme page was set up to facilitate people's generous offers of help.