Doctor and family hail teen’s ‘remarkable recovery’

Leighton, second from right, with his mum Lita, dad Mark and sister Megan.
Leighton, second from right, with his mum Lita, dad Mark and sister Megan.

An air ambulance doctor has praised the ‘incredible’ resilience of a North Tyneside teenager who survived horrific injuries when he fell off a cliff edge.

Dr Chris Smith of the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) said Leighton Alexander, now 15, was in the 10 per cent of the most severely injured patients the charity sees every year.

Leighton Alexander pictured leaving hospital.

Leighton Alexander pictured leaving hospital.

He added: “These patients would normally die with the injury profile that they have, so he was incredibly lucky to survive.

“We were one of the first air ambulances to carry blood and this perfectly demonstrates why we made that step.

“I can’t be sure he would have made it to hospital without the blood.”

Leighton, from Backworth, slipped and fell from a cliff edge at Cullercoats Bay and landed on concrete sea defences on July 18, 2016.

Mark Bainbridge with GNAAS Great North Run teammates Simon Reid and Gary Stephenson of Cullercoats FC.

Mark Bainbridge with GNAAS Great North Run teammates Simon Reid and Gary Stephenson of Cullercoats FC.

He suffered five fractures in his skull, a collapsed lung, broken leg, collar bone, pelvis and five ribs – all on his right side – as well as a couple of fractured vertebra.

The teenager was treated at the scene by GNAAS and the North East Ambulance Service before he was flown to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, where he arrived in a serious but stable condition.

His dad, Mark Bainbridge, said: “Leighton and his mates saw some guys cliff jumping and went over there to go watch them.

“They approached a fence and Leighton’s mate jumped over first, and then Leighton went over and slipped, causing him to fall straight down.

“I went down there and saw him at the bottom of the cliff. The air ambulance medics were giving him a blood transfusion and then putting him into an induced coma, which I know without that he would have died.

“We didn’t think he would survive. Leighton was in an induced coma for five days and when he woke up, we didn’t know what state he’d be in. We thought he might not be able to walk or talk again.

“But he left hospital 15 days later and his recovery was remarkable. He’s lost 90 per cent of his hearing in his right ear and has pins in his femur, but when you look at him you wouldn’t know what he’s been through.”

Leighton played football for Cullercoats FC before the incident and managed to return in 2017 to play in the final few games of the season.

He was also the recipient of the Cullercoats FC Clubman Trophy and the Sports Person of the Year Award.

Mark, 37, has since completed the Great North Run with one of the football coaches and the chairman of Cullercoats FC, raising more than £1,300 for GNAAS.

To find out how you can help the service, call 01325 487263.