Man spent two years in hospital after being crushed by horse

The family of a man who was blinded in a freak accident as he drove to work will be "eternally grateful" to the kind community who helped him.

Ian Tilston, 35, was driving on the M56 from his home in Hawarden, North Wales, to Nantwich on January 10, 2022, when his car was suddenly crushed by a stray horse. The animal had escaped from a field and wandered onto the motorway, where it was struck by another vehicle and catapulted straight into Ian as he exited at junction 10.

He suffered devastating injuries, and was rushed to Salford Royal Hospital for life-saving brain surgery. Afterwards, he was moved to The Walton Centre, where he underwent further surgery to rebuild his face, which was "crushed" in the crash.

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Ian spent more than a year at The Walton Centre as his family, including older brother Adam, tried to raise enough money to buy and renovate a bungalow to suit his new, complex needs - he had suffered extensive brain damage, sight loss, and was unable to walk or even move on his own.

After 771 days spent in hospital and at a care home in Wrexham, Ian was finally able to return to his family in February thanks to the donations of hundreds of well-wishers.

Adam said: "My mum and stepdad had to sell the family home to buy the bungalow, and the money we raised through the GoFundMe was used to adapt it. Without the GoFundMe, we definitely wouldn't have got him home. He would still be stuck in the care system. His old house wouldn't have met his needs, so it has been life-changing and we're eternally grateful.

"My mum and stepdad are now full-time carers for Ian, and we have carers visiting four times a day. They've had to change their whole lives for Ian, as any parent would do."

More than two years on from the tragic accident, Adam said Ian has made significant progress, and was learning to walk again before a seizure in April caused a hip injury which led to the joint being replaced. He said: "His short term memory has got better, but if I visit him today, if I come back two days later he won't remember.

"He's been following England in the Euros; he'll sit and listen to a match but he won't retain the result in his head. It's been great that I've been able to go round when the football is on and watch it with him like the old days. He's not lost his sense of humour, despite all the adversity he's faced. He's still positive, even with everything that's gone against him.

"The hardest thing to come to terms with is his eyesight. He's got damage to his optic nerves, and at the moment there's nothing we can do. Vision Support have been really helpful. A lot of people who work for Vision Support have sight loss themselves, so they have helped him to adapt."

He added: "Ian has his up days and his down days. His main frustration is his eyesight. In a way it is a blessing he doesn't have his short term memory on point, because most of the time he'd be in his wheelchair or bed and sometimes he doesn't fully understand where he is. He constantly asks us 'where am I?'. Some days he does sit there and he gets angry about it. He is aware that he had an accident, and he does retain some things.

"He's an inspiration to me because he cracks on. He has a laugh with anyone. His carers and psychiatrists all speak highly of him. He's just trying to live his life."

Ian's online fundraiser remains active, with all incoming donations going towards Ian's ongoing private physiotherapy.

Adam said: "My hope is we can get him more mobile. He was doing really well until he had a setback with the seizure. We'd love for his vision to come back, but I'm a realist and I know unless there's some sort of major scientific breakthrough, that won't be possible.

"All we want is for Ian to live a comfortable and happy life, which he is now, only a stone's throw away from his siblings, nieces and nephews. He will have to have more surgery on his brain. He's going to face more trials in the future, and it's not going to be a case of 'happily ever after'. There will be days of worrying about him. He's always going to need The Walton Centre. We're just enjoying the time with him that we can."

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