It’s just three weeks since the serious incident at the International North West 200 when two riders and a spectator were injured on Mill Road, Portstewart.
Few could have missed the media frenzy surrounding the injury to spectator Violet McAfee, who is thankfully now well on the road to recovery. Austrian Horst Saiger was able to leave hospital a few days later with little more than a broken elbow. However, little attention has been given to Crumlin rider Stephen Thompson who was catapulted from his speeding machine and remains in hospital with his body shattered.
As his partner Charlotte and children Fay and Libbie remain by his side, encouraging him throughout his difficult recovery process, a recent development has been the emergence of a Go Fund Me page, set up to help the family on this long road of surgery, rehabilitation and physiotherapy.
Thompson, a well known face on the road racing circuit, visited specialists in Dublin last week in a bid to regain movement in his severely damaged arm and as the family pray for progress in the weeks ahead, Stephen’s partner Charlotte explained the injuries this popular rider sustained in the Superstock Race: “Stephen sadly suffered a collapsed lung, bleeding on the brain and a brachial plexus injury, which means we don’t know if he has severed the nerves or badly damaged them but he currently has no feeling or use of his left arm. He has broken the left forearm and shattered his hand and this was operated on the day of the accident and he was in theatre for seven hours.“The Royal Belfast Hospital then sent him to ICU following the operation, where he was put under heavy sedation until the Tuesday to help him with his lungs and trauma to the body.On the Wednesday they transferred him to the fracture ward where he took a turn for the worse in the middle of the night and they had to call for the special care team to come and work and look after him as he was too weak to move back to ICU. The Thursday and Friday were extremely touch-and-go and the doctors were very worried about his deterioration, this put back his operation until he was strong enough to deal with the surgery.
“The operation went ahead on his leg on Wednesday 27th May, when he went to surgery at 10.15am and came back onto the ward that evening at 8pm. He had a pin put in his femur and they put an external cage around the bottom part of his leg to fix the broken tibia and fibula. He can’t weight bare on the leg for at least six to eight weeks and until we know his progress they haven’t give us a time on how long the cage will be on.”
With a long and arduous path ahead, 38-year old Stephen has endured several setbacks in his recovery as Charlotte continued: “Unfortunately the doctors came to tell us Stephen had to have another operation on his other hand on Tuesday 2nd June leaving him without the use of either hand.
“We then met with two of the top nerve specialists in Dublin to see what the prognosis is on Wednesday. Stephen didn’t know what to expect and I was thinking it could be bad news, medium news or good news.
“As it was we got ok news. They can operate and transfer nerves out of Stephen’s chest area to connect them from the neck to the arm this will give Stephen some movement in the top part of his arm. He has had a lot to take onboard and although he found it hard to take in, he is determined that he is going to put all his effort into getting his arm mobile.
“As a family we would like to thank everyone for all your well wishes and prayers, keep them coming.”
Carly Rathmell, a friend of Charlotte has set up a Go Fund Me page to help Stephen on his road to recovery and she explained why she did it.
“As a friend of Charlotte I set up this page to help him with his rehab and recovery which is set to be a very long road. Stephen is self-employed and currently remains in the Royal Belfast hospital.
“Stephen and Charlotte have two girls Fay and Libbie, they are asking for nothing from anyone except prayers and well wishes. I suggested to Charlotte that it would be a good idea to set up this GoFund page and I think the response has been incredible. It just goes to show how highly thought about Stephen, Charlotte and the family are within the racing community. Stephen has had many years racing and it’s a very close industry when something bad happens like this they stick together.
“I originally started with a target of £2,000 and everyday I’ve had to up it. I think if we reach £10,000 it would be incredible. Racing is a small industry but very family orientated, they are one big family and always club together when things are tough.
“I wanted to do this not so much about the money but to show Stephen and Charlotte how much people care about them and to hopefully raise their spirits in what is going to be a very long and tough road ahead.
“If anyone wishes to help with a donation to help Stephen with his recovery it would be very much appreciated.”
A full investigation into the incident is being carried out and is near completion.
If you would like to help Stephen and his family you can donate by going to: http://www.gofundme.com/StephenThompson1