Rugby League: St Helens’ Jonny Lomax on the skull fracture that left him with ’50-50′ chance of survival

“We don’t know what quality of life he will have if he gets through it,” Lomax’s parents were told by surgeon

On Saturday night Jonny Lomax will line up for St Helens as they take on the Sydney Roosters in the World Club Challenge, live on Sky Sports Action.

It’s the latest instalment in what has been a glittering career for the player widely tipped to be crowned Man of Steel this year.

However, the 29-year-old with the most recognisable headgear in the game told Sky Sports’ Golden Point podcast this week that a head clash during a game as a teenager almost cost him more than his career…

“At the time when I clashed heads, I thought I had a bit of concussion. I was pretty ill after the game – a few bits of vomiting – and missed the next day of school. I went back into school on the Friday and struggled with a headache.

“I had a headache Saturday and a headache on Sunday. I had a bit of an argument with my mum and dad because I wanted to go to the cinema with some of my amateur mates to watch a film. My mum being a nurse wasn’t that happy with how I was presenting symptoms.

“She said I wasn’t going, and low and behold about half an hour later I found myself in excruciating pain with a headache. I put my head under a cold tap because it just felt like it was on fire.

“I lost the use of my legs a bit so I sat down and put a wet towel on my head. From there it became a bit of a blur. I remember being carried down the stairs by my dad and then coming in and out of consciousness on the couch.

“The last thing that I remember was projectile vomiting all over the ambulance. From there it was a blue-light ambulance to Whiston Hospital. My mum told the registrar the story, they did a quick CT scan and I was taken over to Alder Hey for basically open-skull surgery.

“It turned out that when I’d clashed heads I’d fractured my skull. Where the skull had fractured that had severed one of the arteries and that had started bleeding out.

“A slow bleed is deemed to be 24 to 48 hours. For myself it was actually five days that it had gone on for, so it was quite a substantial bleed by the time I went in.”

‘We don’t know what quality of life he will have’

“I found out last year with it being my testimonial year that when I went into the surgery the surgeon actually came out and spoke to my mum and dad and said, ‘He’s 50-50 and we don’t know what quality of life he will have if he gets through it’.

“My dad said that seven and half hours rolled around and they hadn’t heard anything, so the nurse went in and the nurse got told to get out by the surgeon. About nine and a half hours later the surgeon came out and said, ‘The operation went well and now it’s just a matter of seeing how he progresses’.

“When the surgeon said my mum and dad could go in – I had spewed up all over them, they’d been sitting in a waiting room for nine and a half hours.

When they came in they tried to bring me round and I had quite a big fit on the bed, and it’s something that I know definitely frightened my dad. Again, this is something I got told last year. But my mum turned to my dad and said, ‘It’s a positive sign, it means it looks like he is going to have some movement, so we take that as a positive’.

“I was put back to sleep and probably another three days or four days rolled around when I was brought to.”

‘The surgeon said I wouldn’t play again’

“What helped me in the rehab was that I didn’t understand what had happened; all the details that are quite scary missed me and it was more my family that had to suffer that and absorb it.

“The surgeon initially said that I wouldn’t play again, so me being 14 years old I just sulked in the bed and didn’t really speak to him. Eventually I broke him down and he said it will be two to three years and I thought ‘At least we’re getting somewhere now, I’ve got a chance of playing again’.

“With regular routine check-ups I ended up getting back in 10 months’ time.

“There were a few setbacks along the way. They didn’t know how I would respond and a big one that was affected was my memory.

“When I got out of the hospital after two weeks I went home and the next day we had to go back into hospital because I didn’t know where I had woken up. I didn’t know I was at home, so we had to go back to the hospital for another week.”

‘They didn’t try talk me out of it’

“To be fair to my mum and dad, they didn’t really try and talk me out of [returning to rugby league] at all.

“It was difficult for my mum. It was difficult for my dad as well, but with my mum being a nurse she had a big understanding of what was going on.

“So in terms of returning to it, they knew my passion to play and with how I progressed it was something they were quite happy to see how things went.

“I know they were definitely worried when I went back playing and were definitely perturbed about it, but the funny thing is now it’s probably one of the things that they’re least worried about because of the knee injuries that I’ve had so it’s something that’s been pushed to the back – in the past.

“It’s something that I’m massively thankful for now that they let me carry on playing. But it’s something that I’m also sorry for as well; putting them through that and having no real understanding and being narrow minded and almost selfish when I was 14 years old in that I was so determined, thinking ‘I’m going back playing, I’m not really bothered what anybody says’. Not knowing the repercussions of what could have been.

Source: Sky Sports

DOMENICO DRAGONE

iGaming expert - with over 10 years of experience in the retail market in Italy and knowledge of global online gaming. In the past he has worked with the largest national gambling companies and he managed some land-based shops on their behalf. Entrepreneur, investor and enthusiast of difficult challenges, in 2015 he founded The Betting Coach Group, an international news and social marketing agency geared towards sports, esports and gambling companies. He is currently the C.E.O of The Betting Coach and is a consultant for Loginbet.it Mr. Dragone collaborates with providers (game developers) and event organizers with the aim of helping them develop networks and business across continents. Passionate about journalism, he is the creator and promoter of iGaming Cafè, the first talk show in Italy, dedicated to companies and delegates from the gaming world.