Terrorist attack victim runs marathon after recovering from his injury

Monday 16 April 2018

Mr Garagnani, Laurence Olding and Michelle Razo

A victim of the Bastille Day terrorist attack is running the London Marathon to thank the team at Guy’s and St Thomas’ who treated his serious injury.

Laurence Olding, 33 from Pimlico in London, was on holiday in Nice, France, in July 2016 with his wife Catherine when a truck was deliberately driven into crowds celebrating Bastille Day, killing 86 people.

To get out of the way of the truck, Laurence and Catherine jumped over the wall separating the promenade from the pebble beach. Laurence shattered his right wrist in 12 places when he landed on the beach and was advised to seek urgent medical help when he returned to London.

Laurence, a market researcher, said: “It was very scary. We saw the truck coming and it driving into other people so we knew we had to act fast. Luckily we could get out of the way, but we saw people hit by the truck who were badly injured or killed - it was awful. We were in a state of shock and horror. In the months that followed it was something that dominated our lives and we thought about it a lot.”

He attended the Emergency Department (A&E) at St Thomas’ Hospital as soon as he got back from France, where he had an X-ray and was told his fracture was severe.

Laurence said: “My wrist was painful and at a funny angle. I couldn’t use my right hand at all. I couldn’t play sports, go to the gym or use a keyboard, so it had a big impact on my job.”

Mr Lorenzo Garagnani, a specialist hand and wrist surgeon at Guy’s and St Thomas’, operated on Laurence to repair the fracture. This was a complex procedure which involved making an incision in the wrist and inserting pins, screws and a plate which were fixed onto the wrist to put the bone fragments back into place and hold them there.

The procedure was done with an advanced keyhole surgery technique only performed in a handful of UK centres for this type of operation. Keyhole surgery meant that the surgeon could look inside of the joint with a camera, providing a detailed view of the fragments and therefore allowing for a more accurate restoration of Laurence’s wrist.

Mr Garagnani explained: “The keyhole procedure is a very skilled operation and is used in selected complex cases. Seeing as Laurence’s fracture was extremely bad we wanted him to have the best possible treatment. The rationale behind it is that it allows us to make the joint more stable and put the fragments in the best possible position which improves the joint’s recovery and function in future.”

Laurence was a patient at the Trust’s specialist hand and wrist surgery clinic, which is led by hand and wrist surgeons and hand therapists. After his operation he underwent many months of therapy, led by hand therapists Sara Probert and Michelle Razo, and worked hard at his rehabilitation to regain the strength in his wrist.

Laurence said: “I was so glad that I was able to be treated at Guy’s and St Thomas’ where I had access to a pioneering technique and top surgeons. I am extremely grateful to everyone involved in my care. Thanks to the great encouragement I received from the surgeon, his team and the hand therapists I was able to push myself during my rehabilitation to get the best possible movement back in my wrist. Now I can do pretty much everything I could do before.”

Last June he and Catherine got married and the pair have since returned to Nice.

Laurence said: “I was keen to have as much movement back in my wrist and not be in a cast for the wedding. After going through what we did in the attack it made it even more special to have friends and family there on our big day. Going back to Nice was very emotional – it brought back how horrific what happened there was and also how lucky we were. We don’t let the attack put us off doing things and try not to dwell on the negatives now.”

Laurence is aiming to raise £4,500 to help other orthopaedic patients at Guy’s and St Thomas’ by running the Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday 22 April.

Mr Garagnani added: “I am delighted that Laurence not only has been able to return to his usual activities and made an excellent recovery, but that he is also able to take on even bigger challenges such as the London Marathon. I am honoured that Laurence has decided to raise money for our Trust and I am proud of the wonderful progress he has made.”

Donate on the virgin money giving website if you would like to help Laurence to reach his target.

Last updated: March 2022

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