8 Feb 2024

Milana on London's Air Ambulance Charity helipad
Milana and her eldest son before her accident

On 17 January 2022, Milana – a mother of two – accidentally fell from a great height in London. Her life took a turn that no one could prepare for.

London’s Air Ambulance was dispatched and arrived at her side within minutes, the first on scene. Our advanced trauma team found Milana barely alive. She was critically injured, extremely pale, breathing very quickly with only palpable central pulses, cold and in a lot of pain. She also had no recordable blood pressure and her heart rate was over twice the normal rate. 

The crew sited intravenous access to administer strong painkillers. They suspected Milana was severely bleeding internally in her abdomen and from a life-threatening pelvic fracture. She had broken her ribs on her left side, puncturing her lung, and had broken her left ankle to such an extent it was stopping the blood supply to her foot. The team also noticed that Milana was not moving her lower limbs at all. They suspected she had unfortunately suffered a spinal cord injury. 

Once off the ground onto a trolley bed, having had a pelvic splint applied, Milana received a blood transfusion – something only London’s Air Ambulance’s team can administer on scene in London. The team also administered a roadside general anaesthetic to take over her breathing and performed a surgical procedure to the left side of her chest to re-inflate her punctured lung. Both these procedures ensured Milana could get maximum oxygen to her vital organs, especially her brain. 

The team then rang the nearest major trauma centre and declared a code red. A code red is an early warning to the receiving hospital team, to prepare them for a patient who is severely injured and has got life-threatening bleeding. On the way to hospital the crew performed an ultrasound scan of Milana’s abdomen which confirmed their suspicion of internal bleeding. 

The team accompanied Milana to hospital, where they handed her over to an awaiting trauma team. 

“When I woke up from my coma, I thought I was in a nightmare. Doctors were telling me what had happened, but I didn’t believe it was real,” said Milana. “I was waiting for someone to pinch me to wake me up properly so I could return to my normal life.”

For the following 10 months, Milana remained in hospital. Her spinal cord injury had resulted in paralysation from her waist down. “For the first three months I struggled to accept this new reality. But when I realised it was real, I said to myself I have to work out how to do this. 

“First I have to heal physically and then find my way out of hospital and back home. I have to return home to my boys.”

Through 12 surgeries and months of intensive rehabilitation, Milana worked tirelessly on her recovery with dedication and tenacity.

“I had to find a new way of living. I had to learn how to do the daily things you don’t even think about in a wheelchair, like getting dressed and getting onto a bed. But I wanted to do it for my children, I wanted to be at home with them for Christmas. They were my driving force.

“An inspiring woman said to me that it is not the accident that happens to you that defines you, but how you respond to the challenges.”

Surrounded by unconditional love and fuelled by determination to overcome the challenges ahead of her, Milana progressed through rehab and returned home to her family, where she lives today.

Milana meeting the London's Air Ambulance paramedic who saved her
Milana meeting our paramedic Vic Brooker

“I vividly remember my first breath of fresh air after removing my respiratory breathing tube and seeing my first sunrise since the accident – so many shades of pink, orange and blue. We can get caught up in life sometimes, but I was reminded never to take anything for granted.

“Something really dreadful happened that day, but at the same time, a miracle happened and from that point onwards so many stars aligned to help me survive. London’s Air Ambulance being first on the spot and then the NHS for the following months. I am grateful for every day, minute and second. Being alive is a privilege and I am so thankful to all the medical teams that have given me the opportunity to be here. The courage and professionalism of London’s Air Ambulance’s crew was incredible.”

After a year of being back at home, living her life with her children and husband, Milana is full of thanks for everyone who has been a part of her journey.

Milana meeting HRH Prince William at London's Air Ambulance Charity's gala
Milana meeting HRH Prince William

“Two things made this impossible journey possible for me. The immense love I received from my husband, my children, my parents, brother, sister and friends. And of course all the doctors and nurses that attended to me. London’s Air Ambulance: the first to arrive and help me. Those first minutes were the most crucial. The charity made my recovery possible.”

Milana was already aware of London’s Air Ambulance Charity before her accident – she had attended one of our events in 2019 and subsequently joined the charity’s gala committee. 

“I was taken aback by the charity when I first heard about it. It’s an inspirational service – you really do save lives.”

She played an instrumental role in organising the 2022 gala – which went on to raise over £1 million on the night – but hadn’t been able to attend as was still in hospital at the time. Instead, she followed the evening through a video call from her hospital bed!

“I am best placed to say that this really can happen to anyone. I wouldn’t wish it to happen to anybody ever. But if it does, we need to make sure London’s Air Ambulance can be there to save their life too.”

Milana speaking at London's Air Ambulance Charity 2024 gala
Milana receiving a standing ovation.

In February 2024, just two years after her accident, Milana spoke at our 2024 gala, bravely sharing her journey with the guests.

“Speaking at the gala is part of my journey, another milestone for me,” she beamed. “This is an opportunity to say thank you to everyone who supported me.

“Something tragic happened to me. But from that point onwards, so much good happened and I am so thankful to London’s Air Ambulance Charity for that.

“There is no rewind button in life, so we have to look forward and that is what I’m doing. Together, tonight, we can make sure that London’s Air Ambulance Charity is able to give another person that chance.”
 

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