Darcy Graham hails his brother Clark’s ‘miracle’ recovery from car crash which left him in a coma for three and a half weeks
When Darcy Graham missed Edinburgh’s 1872 Cup derby against Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun on January 8 for personal reasons the wider rugby public had no idea of the torment the Scotland international and his family were going through.
Four days previously Graham’s younger brother Clark had been involved in a car crash near Ashkirk in the Borders.
The 17-year-old, who had only recently passed his driving test, was travelling with friends from his home in Hawick to the McDonald’s in Galashiels.
Clark, the driver, bore the brunt of the accident and spent three and a half weeks in a coma and four and a half months in hospital. In the words of his older brother, “he probably shouldn’t be here”.
Happily, thanks to the work of NHS staff at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, the city’s Astley Ainslie hospital and the Borders General he has made a remarkable recovery and was able to return home to his family at the weekend.
Darcy has described it as “an absolute miracle” but admits he and his family have been through hell.
“It’s been one of the worst times of my life; it’s been bloody awful,” said the winger.
“In the Six Nations I was very close to not even going in. The only reason I went in was to give mum and dad something to look forward to. It’s been quite horrible.
Astley Ainslie did an amazing job
“But Clark is doing well and his recovery has been good. He’ll live a very good life. It’s been very challenging. He’s been in the Astley Ainslie, and they’ve done an amazing job. He’s back walking, showering - he can do everything himself. It’s just his balance is a wee bit off and his speech is a bit slower, but that will come back. This time next year we won’t even be talking about that.
“In terms of the injuries he has, the way he’s come on in four and a half months . . . It’s been a very short space of time. My shoulder rehab is going to take four months, so I reckon to come back from a brain injury is unbelievable.”
Graham was on media duties yesterday to speak about the new contract he had signed with Edinburgh. Pleased as he was to commit his future to the club, it paled in comparison to the relief he and his family felt to have Clark home.
‘He probably shouldn’t be here’
In a post on Instagram, a picture of a homemade ‘Welcome Home’ banner is accompanied by the Superman logo and the Graham family clearly believe Clark has some of his namesake’s special powers.
“He’s still 17. To go through what he’s gone through - he’s unbelievable, and I’ll always look up to him now. I wouldn’t wish that upon anybody,” said Darcy.
“He probably shouldn’t be here. That’s the hardest part. He had somebody looking over him that day.
“He was in a coma for three and a half weeks, and in that whole three and a half weeks we just didn’t know if he was going to make it. He got infections, and there was just one thing after another. You’d get one positive thing then something negative would come up.
“What he’s come through is hard to put into words. To get a true understanding . . . It was a living nightmare.
“It was just outside Hawick. It was a snowy night. It was the last day before lockdown so he and his pals were going for a McDonald's.
“One of his best mates was in the car. He has come out fine although he broke his leg but he was all good. We were very grateful for that.
“My brother was driving. He only passed his test about six months earlier so it was inexperience. He left Hawick and it was a snowy and icy night. It was no fault of his own, just a bit of inexperience. These things happen and we are very grateful that he’s still here.”
Darcy sat out Scotland’s opening Six Nations game against England in early February but was 24th man as the visitors recorded an historic Calcutta Cup win at Twickenham.
He returned the following week and played against Wales at Murrayfield, scoring a try which he dedicated to his brother.
Crying in the changing room
“I told him I was going to score in that game,” he said. “That was before he could even speak; he was just coming out of his coma then. We facetimed him.”
That Graham was able to play for Scotland in the Six Nations and help them to a famous win in Paris in March says much about his resilience and it’s clearly a family trait.
“It was very emotional,” he admitted. “Every game in the Six Nations I always listened to one song before I went out - Clark always used to listen to it. I was the last one out of the changing room and I was sitting listening to the song and I would just cry away in the changing room. Then I would just flip the switch and go focus, and out I went to warm up.”
It was a deeply personal moment and Darcy preferred not to divulge the name of the song. He was keen to thank all the NHS staff who helped nurse Clark back to health and the emergency services who came to his aid.
“They have done an amazing job – the Astley Ainslie, the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and the BGH.
“Like my brother says, he’s had the world’s best surgeons working on him, so everyone who has helped – including the fire service – I can’t thank them enough because if it wasn’t for them he wouldn’t be here.”