A VALLEYS motorcyclist said he owes his life to the Air Ambulance after a serious road accident left him close to death.
Robert Powell was in a crash with another motorcyclist while riding between Monmouth and the Forest of Dean on March 25.
Suffering multi-organ failure, Mr Powell said it was "touch and go" for the next two weeks.
But now seven months on, Mr Powell is out of hospital and walking again with sticks - something he said would not have been possible if the Air Ambulance hadn't been there to take him to hospital so quickly.
Mr Powell, 58, from Nantyglo, and his family are now raising money for the Wales Air Ambulance to give something back for saving his life.
The former engineer had owned his motorbike for three years when the crash happened.
Mr Powell said he can't remember the accident but has since heard how a female nurse passing by helped stem the bleeding until the emergency services arrived.
An Air Ambulance crew from the East Midlands then airlifted him to Bristol's Frenchay Hospital.
Mr Powell said he had suffered multi-organ failure including a lacerated liver and was in surgery for six-and-a-half hours when he arrived.
He also needed 18 pints of blood, had a fractured hip and a broken tibia, fibula and fema and had two titanium rods fitted in his leg.
He had extensive injuries to his hand which doctors had to rebuild and skin grafts were taken to heal the wound on his leg.
Mr Powell was bedridden for most of the 12 weeks he was at Frenchay.
He then spent two weeks at Abergavenny's Nevill Hall Hospital and 12 weeks at Ebbw Vale Hospital to start rehabilitation before returning home on September 10.
He now uses walking sticks to get around and will have further surgery next year to strengthen the pins in his leg.
Mr Powell now lives with his sister Jennifer in Ebbw Vale while he recovers and still has regular physiotherapy.
Before the accident, Mr Powell was semi-retired but was teaching adults basic skills - a job he said he loved and misses.
"It's life-changing in a minute or even seconds really. One minute you can walk and do what you want to do and now I'm relying on these walking sticks.
"I have to rely on everyone to do simple things like shopping."
Mr Powell said doctors are unsure how long the leg will take to heal but said he would be unable to drive for at least a year.
He thanked the nurse who stopped to help, the Air Ambulance and the medical professionals who have all helped in his recovery.
WALES Air Ambulance provides vital emergency air cover to those facing life-threatening illnesses or injuries and can be anywhere in Wales within 20 minutes.
Each mission costs around £1,500 and it has carried out more than 16,000 missions since it was set up in 2001.
It is a charity and relies completely on public donations.
Mr Powell's niece Sara Thomas-Gough has now become a fundraising representative for the charity covering the Blaenau Gwent area.
She said: "I hope to raise enough money to pay back the money needed to save Robert as well as save more lives in the future.
"We can't just take, we have to give back."
She has already raised around £5,000 and has organised a charity ball at the Bryn Meadows Hotel on Saturday which will also be attended by Tredegar paralympian Mark Colbourne.
Anyone wanting to help with the fundraising can email Mrs Thomas-Gough on firstname.lastname@example.org