Gemma Holmes was on her moped when a collision with another vehicle sent her rocketing through the air. It was a miracle that she was even still alive after the crash – let alone that she survived the trip to hospital. Then, following the accident, Holmes slipped into a coma, and medics all but gave up hope of her pulling through. Three months later, however, everything changed.
September 8, 2012, was a day that may have begun like any other for the then-25-year-old Holmes. Back then, the care worker from Hilperton, England, was on her morning commute as usual, riding her scooter to her job at a nursing home. During the journey, though, something terrible happened.
While on the A350 road – about nine miles from her home – Holmes crashed headlong into a stationary car. In fact, she hit the vehicle with such force that she was subsequently propelled into the air and into a street lamp. Holmes’ back was broken in the process, with the care worker also suffering multiple injuries to her head and neck.
Holmes’ condition was such that an air ambulance was scrambled to airlift her to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol. By now, she had slipped into a coma, and things were looking serious. And even though her broken body was in safe hands at the hospital, the doctors’ prognosis was bleak.
But while the medics knew that they needed to operate on Holmes’ shattered spine, they couldn’t carry out the procedure right away – and for good reason. You see, after staff at the hospital had carried out tests on their patient, they discovered something unexpected. It turned out that Holmes was pregnant – 12 weeks along, in fact.
In order to operate on Holmes’ back, though, the medical team would need to terminate the pregnancy. Clearly, the injured woman’s comatose state left her in no position to agree to this; as a consequence, then, doctors contacted her next of kin, mom Julie Brown, and tasked her with making a momentous call. Would she give permission for the hospital to abort her daughter’s baby?
Brown duly weighed up the options, but she ultimately decided that the choice was not hers to make. Then, thankfully, her daughter eventually woke from her coma. Now Holmes could take charge of her own fate – as well as that of the fetus inside her. But first she had to get over the shock of finding out about her pregnancy. What’s more, Holmes had woken up with amnesia and could not recall ever having had a romantic relationship recently.
In fact, the past three years were a total void in Holmes’ memory. The mom-to-be couldn’t even recall the identity of the father of her unborn child. And while Holmes eventually learned that the mystery dad was actually her former partner, Luke Dicks, she couldn’t remember either how the couple had got together or why they had split up.
“For a start, I had no idea how I ended up in hospital,” Holmes told Reveal magazine in 2013, “let alone how I had fallen pregnant – or by whom.” People close to Holmes rallied round to offer support, however, and they helped her cope with her unimaginable predicament by trying to fill the gaps in her memory.
In the process, Holmes was informed of statements that she’d made of which she had no recollection. “I have been told recently that I said some time before the crash I didn’t want kids before I was 30,” she recounted to SWNS in 2013. In that case, Holmes was way ahead of schedule.
But despite the overwhelming news and her difficult circumstances, Holmes chose to keep her child. This wasn’t a decision to be taken lightly; indeed, medical staff went as far as to advise against it. Holmes had the final say, though, and so doctors took measures to ensure that the pregnancy and birth would be as safe as possible.
And Holmes made her decision despite the fact that it would delay her own recovery and surgery day. She could see a physiotherapist but not have the operation she needed to begin walking again. Still, though it meant that she would be in a wheelchair for longer, Holmes prioritized her baby’s needs over her own. Her maternal instincts may have already kicked in at this point, then.
What’s more, Holmes remained steadfast in her decision regardless of her extreme discomfort. Painkillers were rationed in hospital, with high doses strictly off limits due to the risk to her unborn baby. Meanwhile, when it came to giving birth, there was really only one sensible method of delivery open to the expectant mother.
Yes, a natural birth was out of the question for two main reasons. Firstly, the strain of contractions would have proven too much for Holmes’ back to endure. Secondly, labor places the brain under pressure – something that may run the risk of Holmes enduring yet more head trauma. The outcome was therefore simple: she would have to have a C-section.
Happily, on May 2, 2013, Holmes successfully gave birth to a son, Ruben Miracle William. The tiny trooper weighed in at a shade under six pounds. And that middle name of “Miracle” is a tribute, Holmes has since said, to the way that her child thrived despite his mom’s brush with death.
Then, just three months after the birth, Holmes appeared on U.K. TV show This Morning to talk about her eventful year. “I just thought that if this little baby inside me had managed to survive the awful crash, then he was meant to be,” she said on the show.
Holmes also turned to her own mom for some much-needed help after the accident. And the proud grandmother proved more than up to the task. As well as caring for her daughter, Brown helped out with looking after her precious new grandson.
And while Holmes ultimately never rekindled her relationship with Ruben’s dad, her former partner nevertheless said that he was keen to be involved in his son’s life. “It is just great for my son,” Holmes told SWNS, although she stressed that there was no possibility of her and Dicks ever getting back together.
In the meantime, though, Holmes was faced with an uphill struggle to get back on her feet. Surgeons had warned that she may need metal plates in her back and told her that she faced a long spell in a wheelchair. But she refused to give up hope of walking again. “Ruben’s my little miracle,” she said on This Morning, “and I really hope I will one day be able to run around with him.”
So, Holmes clearly had a long road ahead of her following her awful accident. But thanks to the dedication of her doctors, the support from her mom and the joy of having little Ruben, things slowly turned around for the better. Instead of tragedy, then, fresh beginnings and new life came from that fateful day in 2012.