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From adversity to gratitude, running 26 miles for Guy’s and St Thomas’

13.03.18 Categories: Patient stories, Supporter stories,

In July 2016, while on holiday in France, Laurence Olding got caught up in the horrific Bastille Day terrorist attack in Nice which killed 86 people. He was treated at Guy’s and St Thomas’ for a severe fracture to his wrist, and is now fundraising to show thanks for his care by running the London Marathon.

Laurence’s story

Laurence and his wife Catherine had spent the evening on the Promenade des Anglais, enjoying the Bastille Day fireworks display and the bands that were playing. It was as they were heading home that a truck came careering down the promenade towards them, crashing into the crowds.

‘It was very scary,’ says Laurence. ‘We saw the truck coming and driving into other people, so we knew we had to act fast.’

To escape the oncoming danger, Laurence and Catherine jumped over the wall separating the promenade from the pebble beach. It was the impact from the fall that shattered Laurence’s right wrist in 12 places.

‘Luckily we could get out of the way, but we saw people hit by the truck who were badly injured or killed - it was awful,’ recalls Laurence.

‘We were in a state of shock and horror. In the months that followed it was something that dominated our lives and we thought about it a lot.’

Specialist treatment at Guy’s and St Thomas’

Laurence attended the Emergency Department at St Thomas’ Hospital as soon as he got back from France, where he learned how severe his injury was.

‘My wrist was painful and at a funny angle,’ he says. ‘I couldn’t use my right hand at all. I couldn’t play sports, go to the gym or use a keyboard, so it had a big impact on my job.’

Laurence underwent complex keyhole surgery involving pins, screws and a plate being fixed onto the wrist to put the bone fragments back into place and hold them there. He then had many months of hand therapy and worked hard at his rehabilitation to regain the strength in his wrist.

Mr Lorenzo Garagnani, specialist hand and wrist surgeon at Guy’s and St Thomas’, operated on Laurence to repair the fracture.

‘The keyhole procedure is a very skilled operation and is used in selected complex cases,’ explains Lorenzo. ‘Seeing as Laurence’s fracture was extremely bad, we wanted him to have the best possible treatment.’

Thanks to the team in the specialist hand and wrist surgery clinic, Laurence has recovered well and is able to do pretty much everything he could do before his injury.

‘I’m so glad that I was treated at Guy’s and St Thomas’, where I had access to a pioneering technique and top surgeons,’ says Laurence. 

‘I’m extremely grateful to everyone involved in my care, and so am running the marathon to raise money for the hospitals which have done so much to support my recovery. I want to help them to continue their excellent work in improving the lives of patients requiring orthopaedic surgery.’

Moving forwards

Laurence and Catherine got married last June, and the pair returned to Nice when they stayed in the south of France as part of their honeymoon.

‘After going through what we did in the attack, it made it even more special to have friends and family there on our big day,’ says Laurence.

‘Going back to Nice was very emotional – it brought back how horrific what happened there was and also how lucky we were. We don’t let the attack put us off doing things and try not to dwell on the negatives now.’

One positive, truly amazing thing that Laurence is doing is supporting Guy’s and St Thomas’ in this way. You can help Laurence’s fundraising along by donating here.

Picture: Laurence with Mr Lorenzo Garagnani, specialist hand and wrist surgeon and Michelle Razo, hand therapist.