Adam doesn’t remember celebrating his 21st birthday in England, not because he was partying too hard but because the after effects of an emergency operation to remove an abscess on his frontal lobe affected his memory.
Quick thinking friends Tom Devaney and Anouska Thornton got Adam to hospital in England and once he was given the all clear Adam flew back to Australia to join his family in Broken Hill.
Far from being the end of the crisis, that’s when Adam’s problems really began.
An undetected infection in Adam’s sinuses, possibly caused by a hairline fracture in his skull, gradually took hold and the nightmares Adam thought he was experiencing turned out to be seizures.
Adam’s brother woke one night to the sound of furniture banging and crashing in his brother’s room and he rushed in to find Adam trapped between the bed and the wardrobe, cut and bruised by the force of the fit.
Less than 24 hours later Adam was in intensive care in Broken Hill Hospital.
His kidneys had failed, his airways collapsed and his vital organs were functioning only with the help of a life support machine. That’s when the Flying Doctor was tasked to airlift Adam to hospital in Adelaide.
“A team of professionals swung into action to get Adam ready for that flight and I can’t speak highly enough of all the medical staff.” says Adam’s mum Linda.
“As a parent it all seems to happen in slow motion, like a car crash, but in reality I know it was fast and efficient.”
With so much equipment on board the aircraft Adam’s parents were forced to follow by road.
The five-hour journey from Broken Hill to Adelaide took far longer than normal.
“We were so worried about Adam we had to drive really carefully. Any time we picked up a mobile signal we stopped to call and find out how he was doing.”
The 22-year-old survived, although the trauma left him blind in one eye and with significant memory loss.
“But what’s that compared to your life?” says Linda. “Adam is a positive young man and he refuses to be downcast about what’s happened. He’s already planning a fundraising event to raise money for the RFDS.”
Linda works at the Silverton Hotel, where a Flying Doctor donation tin stands on the counter.
“If someone asks me about the Flying Doctor I tell them what happened to Adam. I never ask for money but it doesn’t take long for them to reach into their pockets. After all, where would Australia be without the Royal Flying Doctor Service?”