7 Dec 2023

Zoltan hugging his two daughters

In July 2022, while walking on a pavement in Mayfair, father-of-two Zoltan was struck by an out-of-control van. He was initially crushed and pinned against a fence railing before it gave way and he fell down a 10ft ledge into a basement. 

With concrete blocks smashed around him, Zoltan was trapped in the basement area where he had fallen.

“I was conscious the whole time,” said Zoltan. “I remember looking up at my colleague’s face, who was still standing on the pavement. His face told me how bad the situation was.”

The police and London Ambulance Service (LAS) paramedics were the first to arrive at his side. This included an Advanced Paramedic Practitioner (APP) and the Hazard Area Response Team (HART). Together, they worked to get to Zoltan, while reassuring and assessing him.

x-ray showing Zoltan's near amputation of his left lower legIt was clear that although Zoltan was awake and conscious, he had sustained a near complete amputation of his right lower leg. The first responders proceeded to treat him rapidly, applying a tourniquet to his leg to stop any further bleeding whilst gaining intravenous access. This enabled them to administer sedation in order to safely and compassionately extricate him. They also applied a pelvic binder and box splint to his badly injured leg, and requested the assistance of London’s Air Ambulance’s advanced trauma team.

London’s Air Ambulance’s crew arrived as Zoltan was being extricated from the basement. They were able to provide Zoltan with more painkillers before examining him thoroughly to make sure he didn’t have any other life-threatening injuries. They also administered antibiotics in anticipation of infection caused by contamination from any dirt and debris. Zoltan was then taken to the nearest major trauma centre.

“I just concentrated on thinking about my two girls,” said Zoltan. “I had to get through it for them, I had to remain positive for them.”

On the way to the hospital, Zoltan was already considering the likelihood that he would lose his leg due to the catastrophic nature of the injury to it. “I told them I just had to keep my knee – an amputation I could handle, but I really wanted to keep my knee.”

Zoltan learning to walk on a prostheticThe team at the hospital sadly could not save Zoltan’s lower leg, but they did their very best to ensure he kept his knee. He therefore underwent a below knee amputation on his right leg. In order to give Zoltan any chance of walking on a prosthetic limb, the team at the hospital needed to stabilise his pelvis too, which was fractured on both sides. In the same operation, plastic surgeons examined the remaining tissue, cut away any infected muscle and skin, and trimmed the bone to give them the best chance of fitting him with a prosthetic leg.

“It has been a big adjustment, but I still consider myself lucky. I am lucky the paramedics and London’s Air Ambulance trauma team treated me that day. I am lucky to have my wife and family. I am lucky to be here.”

On the year anniversary of his accident, Zoltan cycled from London to Brighton with his new prosthetic. The below video tells the incredible story of recovery and resilience that Zoltan has experienced. Please watch it now:

Some of the footage in the above film was supplied to us by Channel 4 and Garden TV, following Zoltan's feature in Channel 4's documentary Emergency. We're thankful to them for sharing the footage.

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London, we need you. Time is running out to replace your life-saving helicopters.
Time is running out to replace your life-saving helicopters.