JUST under a year ago, Caerleon’s Nathan Laing was fighting for his life following an attack in Cyprus which left him in a medically-induced coma and suffering from a brain injury.
But now, after 12 months of hard work and determination, and learning to walk unaided again, the 27-year-old is getting ready to take on tomorrow’s Cardiff half marathon in aid of a charity which has supported him throughout his battle.
Mr Laing spent more than 10 weeks in hospital both in Cyprus and Newport after being attacked by a gang of men outside a nightclub in Paphos on October 30 last year while on holiday with his brother Christian.
His family agonisingly watched at his bedside not knowing whether he would recover from the brain injury which had been caused by the brain shaking about in his skull.
But after making significant progress, Mr Laing was discharged from Newport's Royal Gwent Hospital in January and taken to Cardiff's Rookwood Hospital where he spent a further five months undergoing rehabilitation including speech and language therapy and occupational therapy.
Determined not to let the incident ruin his life, Mr Laing continued to work hard at his recovery which included setting himself the challenge of competing in tomorrow’s event. He will run in aid of brain injury charity Headway which have supported him and his family through a very difficult year.
Mr Laing believes there were about 10 men in the group which attacked him and his brother. He said no-one has been arrested in relation to the incident which even now he does not remember.
Although his brother Christian was knocked out in the attack, he did not need further treatment but Mr Laing was instantly taken to Paphos General Hospital where he was placed in an induced coma.
He stayed at the hospital for around three days before being transferred to Nicosia General Hospital. On November 18 he was then brought to Newport’s Royal Gwent Hospital by air ambulance.
Mr Laing remained in a coma at the start but slowly started to make progress and on December 12 showed his first sign of response when he made a thumbs up sign to friends. The next day he then managed to stand up with help.
Determined to recover, Mr Laing kept on battling and on January 13 he was transferred to Rookwood where he stayed until June 14.
Although back at home now, Mr Laing is still visited by social services daily to help him with tasks such as decision making and planning.
He is hoping to return to his job with the Environment Agency in Cardiff next year.
He said: "This year has been a shocker. The recovery has been very frustrating. For me, it has wiped out my 27th year."
He added: "I do want to raise awareness of the dangers of Paphos as I heard there were other cases being investigated there that week. It was evident that this attack was not an isolated incident."
His mum Vivienne said: "I am so proud of Nathan’s determination and what he has achieved."
The family thanked medical staff and Newport social services who have helped with Mr Laing’s recovery.
To sponsor Mr Laing visit www.justgiving.com/nathan-laing
COMMENT: An inspirational man
NATHAN Laing has fought back from the brink of death last year and tomorrow will be running a half marathon.
Nathan and his brother Christian were attacked by a gang while on holiday in Cyprus almost a year ago.
The 27-year-old took such a beating that he suffered a brain injury and was in a coma for a number of weeks.
After 10 weeks of emergency care, and a further five months of rehabilitation at a specialist hospital, Nathan still needs daily help from social services.
But he began his fight back to health by setting himself the goal of running in the Cardiff half marathon.
And it is a goal he will achieve tomorrow when he runs to raise money for Headway, a charity that has provided him with essential help.
Nathan is a prime example of the ability of the human spirit to deal with the toughest of challenges.
Tomorrow will not be the end of Nathan’s recovery - but it will represent a huge step forward for a man who was fighting for life less than a year ago.
We wish Nathan all the luck in the world for tomorrow’s event and hope he raises a substantial amount of money for his chosen charity.
Above all, we hope his recovery continues and that he achieves his next goal of a return to full-time work.