Family Support Brain Injury Awareness Campaign And Support Available
A former professional boxing champion forced to retire after suffering a ruptured brain aneurysm has spoken of how the injury still affects him 10 years on.
Darren McDermott, from Dudley, was sparring with a fellow boxer in August 2010 when an undetected aneurysm ruptured after a blow to the head.
He underwent emergency surgery to stem a bleed on his brain but sustained permanent brain damage leading to short-term memory loss and difficulties with aggression control. Just five months prior to the incident, Darren had been given the ‘all clear’ and re-licensed to box following an annual medical and MRI. Unbeknown to Darren, the scan showed an aneurysm on his brain which should have led to his professional boxing licence being revoked.
Following his injury, Darren and his wife Claire instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate whether the aneurysm should have been detected during routine testing and his licence revoked.
In 2018, the couple’s legal team successfully secured a settlement for Darren, after InHealth Ltd, the company appointed by the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoC) to manage the process of obtaining and checking professional boxer’s MRI scans for re-licensing purposes, admitted liability. The settlement is helping Darren access the specialist support and rehabilitation he requires to live his life as best he can.
A decade on from his life-changing injury, Darren, 41, has now joined with the legal experts in supporting Action for Brain Injury Week. This year’s campaign is focused on how memory loss can affect people like Darren following a brain injury.
Expert Opinion“The last 10 years have been incredibly difficult for Darren, who can no longer do the one thing he loved the most because of his brain injury.
He lives with memory loss and issues with aggression, which undoubtedly will also have an impact on his family life and how he copes with day-to-day challenges.
Darren’s case is a vivid reminder of how people can continue to be affected by injury long after the physical signs have gone, but he has shown great progress through his rehabilitation. He is keen to share his story as part of Action for Brain Injury Week to raise awareness of the help and support available to those living with a brain injury.
We are continuing to support Darren and his family as he moves forward with his recovery.”
Tom Riis-Bristow - Senior Associate Solicitor
Darren and Claire, 39, have been married for 13 years. The couple have two sons, Kian, 15, and six-year-old Vinnie. Darren has also a daughter, Chloe, 22, from a previous relationship.
Darren, nicknamed the Black Country Bodysnatcher, had been preparing for a British super-middleweight championship fight when he was training with Nathan Cleverley in August 2010. The pair were wearing protective guards as is standard for training and sparring when Darren received the blow.
Darren, a former British middleweight champion, who had won 17 of his 20 professional fights, was forced to retire.
Following his retirement, Darren set up the Brooklands Amateur Boxing Club in Dudley. Darren’s symptoms means he has had to take more of a back seat in the running of the club but still remains its figurehead. The club is now run by seven coaches and supports more than 100 aspiring young amateur boxers from the local community. The club also runs fitness classes for the local community. Sadly, due to COVID-19 the club has had to close but Darren is hopeful that it can survive despite the significant financial impact of the prolonged closure.
Darren said: “It is hard to believe that my injury was more than a decade ago now, as it has had a lasting impact on me and my family, and I still struggle with everyday tasks.
“I have always said that Nathan is in no way to blame for what happened to me, as I shouldn’t have been allowed to continue fighting. Unfortunately I can’t turn back the clock and all I can do now is continue with my rehabilitation and hope that others don’t have to go through what I have.
“One of the main effects of my brain injury is my memory loss which can be incredibly frustrating at times, for example, when I forget where I have left my car or even what colour my toothbrush is. But it could have been worse so I feel lucky to be alive.
“My family are such a great support to me – I wouldn’t have got through this without them. With the support of my wife Claire and my family, we have all had to develop coping strategies for my memory loss as it isn’t ever going away. My memory loss is a daily struggle and, in order to stop it from ruling my life, we have put in place reminder systems and prompts to try and help ease the burden it has on my life. In addition, I am now more open to trying new ideas and coping mechanisms to help with my memory loss and its impact.
“Action for Brain Injury Week is the perfect way for me to share my story in the hope that it will help others understand that not all injuries are visible, particularly those impacting the brain. There are a lot of brain injured people suffering in silence as they don’t know about the care and support out there.”
Action for Brain Injury Week runs from 28 September to 4 October. Organised by the charity Headway this year’s campaign is Memory Loss: A Campaign to Remember.
For more information visit www.headway.org.uk/news-and-campaigns/campaigns/memory-loss-a-campaign-to-remember/