Heading to Australia has always been popular for Irish students and workers, offering the opportunity of a great life experience. But for one 23-year-old, his life was turned upside-down when he landed Down Under.
Michael Hyndman jetted off to Oz with his fiancé last September (2017) to take up a new job as a quantity surveyor. But during New Year’s Eve celebrations he suffered a serious brain injury following an altercation which saw him undergo emergency surgery on New Year’s Day.
His family waited by his bedside as he slept in an induced coma, hoping and praying that Michael would wake up. Desperate to do something, his brother Brian set up an online fundraising page which was an urgent cry for help to get his brother home.
And it worked. Now, nearly 5 months later, Michael is finally coming home after two life-changing surgeries and months of rehabilitation.
He said: “There is no doubt in my mind that my recovery has been phenomenal. I don’t think this would have been the case if it wasn’t for my friends, my family, colleagues and the many selfless people who don’t even really know me, yet donated to my cause. Your generosity made it possible for me to have my family at my bedside when I needed it most.”
Every year thousands of Irish apply for visas to work abroad to countries like Australia and beyond. It’s exciting, a new chapter in their lives. But as Michael knows, all it takes is one punch. Michael now wants to use his story to help raise awareness of the importance of walking away from confrontation.
“It was just one punch that started this nightmare 105 days ago and almost cost me my life.”
He said: “I want to make sure that people fully understand the consequences of throwing just one punch. It was just one punch that not only put an abrupt end to our new year celebrations but has completely overshadowed, what was to be ‘our new and exciting chapter’ in our life. Thankfully I am here to tell the tale and I hope that by sharing my story people will realise the dangers involved. I hope that I can prevent, even one person, from throwing that, life altering/ in some cases fatal, punch in the future. Life is too precious.”
Here at Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, we know all too well that a serious brain injury happens in the blink of an eye. All it takes is one punch or one second when someone takes their eye of the road. One in 5 of the brain injuries we see are caused by assault and road traffic accidents. The latest Garda statistics on assault are highlighted here as part of the Garda campaign Use Your Brain, Not Your Fists:
- 83% of offenders in assault cases are male
- Majority of offenders are aged between 18 and 39
- 70% of assaults are male-on-male
- 75% of assault victims are male
- Street assaults typically occur between 8pm and 5am at the weekend
- Low level of repeat offenders (approx 3%), and low level of repeat victimisation (0.6%)
- Low level of reporting of assaults (approx 55% of assaults reported)
This summer, as many more students seek to go abroad on working holiday visas, we urge them to Keep Your Head and walk away from confrontation.
Our tips to avoid assault:
- Stay together – don’t get separated from your friends and don’t leave a friend behind.
- Walk away – if things get heated, Keep Your Head, walk away and call for help
- Stay in touch – let people know where you are going and plan how to get there
Barbara O’Connell, Chief Executive added: “Nobody ever thinks a brain injury will happen to them, but it happens to 35 people in Ireland every day. It happens in the blink of an eye but can leave a lifetime of difficulty. All it takes is one punch to turn a life upside-down. Many of our brain injury survivors are often left with a chronic and ongoing condition that can affect their lives and those of their family for months, years and even decades after the initial injury. We need more people to walk away and call for help so we can stop any more young men suffering brain injury from assault.”