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Professional Boxer Forced To Retire After Undetected Aneurysm Ruptured Supports Action Brain Injury Week

Family Joins Irwin Mitchell In Raising Awareness Of Hidden Symptoms

17.05.2019

Andrew Hewitt, Press Officer | 0114 274 4255

A former professional boxing champion forced to retire after his undetected brain aneurysm ruptured is backing a campaign to raise awareness of how fatigue affects people living with brain injuries.

In August 2010, Darren McDermott was sparring with the former two-time world light-heavyweight champion boxer, Nathan Cleverly in preparation for his own upcoming title fight when the aneurysm ruptured when he received a blow to the head.

The now 40-year-old, underwent emergency surgery to stem a bleed on his brain, but suffered permanent brain damage, which resulted in short-term memory loss and difficulties with aggression control.

Only five months previously, Darren had been given the ‘all clear’ and was re-licensed to box, following his British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoC) mandated annual medical and MRI. Unbeknown to Darren, the MRI scan showed an aneurysm on his brain which should have resulted in his professional boxing licence being revoked.

Following the incident, Darren and wife, Claire, of Dudley, instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate whether the fighter’s pre-existing aneurysm should have been detected during routine testing and his professional boxing licence revoked.

The couple’s legal team secured Darren a substantial settlement after InHealth Ltd, the company appointed by the BBBoC to manage the process of obtaining and checking all professional boxers’ MRI scans for re-licensing purposes, admitted liability.

The compensation he received was to help pay for the specialist support and rehabilitation Darren now requires. He has been left with acute short-term memory loss, difficulty with controlling emotions and the consequent severe fatigue his brain injury has caused. 

Darren has now joined his legal team at Irwin Mitchell in supporting Action for Brain Injury Week. Organised by Headway, the annual awareness week this year has the theme of ‘brain drain – wake up to fatigue’.

Expert Opinion
“Whilst many people with brain injuries may be perceived by others to show no outward signs of any injury, like Darren, there are often multiple hidden consequences for the individual who is living with their brain injury. Things such as memory loss and aggression mean that the individual often needs more time to think or deal with these symptoms. Every day normal tasks can often take more time and require patience. Having to deal with issues like this can be exhausting for those trying to cope with the daily impact of their brain injuries.

“While Darren continues to make great progress through his rehabilitation he and his family will continue to face major challenges because of his injuries. Darren and his family are keen to share his story so that others don’t suffer in silence and awareness is raised.

“We join Darren in supporting Action for Brain Injury Week. The campaign is incredibly important in raising awareness on how fatigue can often be a misunderstood consequence of brain injury and how its impact on people living with brain injury should be better understood.”
Tom Riis-Bristow, Associate Solicitor

Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in handling brain injury cases 

Darren and Claire, 38, met in 2002 and married in 2007. The couple have two sons, Kian, 14, and five-year-old Vinnie. Darren also has a daughter, Chloe, 21, 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 fights, was forced to retire.

Following his retirement Darren set up the Brooklands Amateur Boxing Club in Dudley. Darren’s fatigue means he has had to take more of back seat in the running of 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.

Darren said: “Whilst coming to terms with what happened and the lasting impact it has had on me and my family has been incredibly difficult I feel lucky to be alive.

“Nathan is not to blame for any of this, I should have not been out in a position where I was allowed to continue fighting.

“Sometimes people struggle to understand my ongoing symptoms as they cannot see any physical injuries and the incident happened years ago.

“Brain injuries can have several hidden features. There needs to be more awareness and understanding so we can help others cope with the day to day impact of their symptoms and the impact they can have.” 

To help Darren deal with issues connected to his fatigue, the family often visit a caravan they have in the Welsh seaside village of Tywyn.

Claire said: "With every year the passes Darren’s fatigue seems to get progressively worse. We have to be careful to avoid him having a burn out as his fatigue then aggravates his forgetfulness and frustration.

“He requires a lot more rest and recuperation than he did before his brain injury. Going to the caravan is a great way for him to do this. We call it ‘our happy place’ as it is right by the sea and allows Darren to switch off and recharge. He has nothing to think about and no routine to stick to which gives him respite. We see glimmers of the old carefree Darren come back when we are there.”

InHealth accepted its own Professional Boxers’ MRI protocol did not include certain types of additional scans which should have been taken for all professional boxers. It also accepted that, had the protocol included these additional scans, Darren’s aneurysm would likely have been detected, his licence revoked and his brain injury avoided.

As a result of the aneurysm going undetected, the BBBoC relied on InHealth’s approval of Darren’s MRI scan and renewed his licence because the MRI scan was reported as without concern, when in reality he had a dangerous undetected aneurysm which should have precluded him from ever entering the ring again.