Cambridgeshire farmer rescued by East Anglian Air Ambulance after being impaled by spike

This is the moment a Wisbech farmer became impaled by his own machinery - the spike missing his vital organs by just millimetres.

Remaining conscious throughout his rescue, Jonathan Willis was warned even the slightest movement could have led to catastrophic bleeding.

A year on, he and his family have thanked the medics who saved his life - with a £45,000 cheque that will help keep their air ambulance in the sky.

The 42-year-old had been unloading straw bales at his Cambridgeshire farm when the telehandler rolled forwards, pinning him against a trailer.

The spike had entered his body through his lower back, piercing his intestine, and exiting at his abdomen.

Jonathan and Wendy Willis have thanked the East Anglian Air Ambulance who were on the scene within minutes.

Doctors from the East Anglian Air Ambulance worked alongside police, fire service and paramedics to carefully cut the tine with an angle grinder.

"It was incredibly important than any movement of Jonathan or the tine was minimised, in case it worsened any internal bleeding, but we also needed to free him quickly," said Nathan Howes, the consultant doctor on duty with the East Anglian Air Ambulance that day.

Once freed, the weight, length and position of the spike meant the only safe way to take Mr Willis to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge was by land.

Surgeons spent seven hours operating to remove the steel and repair the damage.

Emmanuel Huguet, from Addenbrooke's major trauma service, said it was "near impossible" for someone to have survived an accident like it.

Mr Huguet, who has kept the spike, said 30 people were in the operating theatre at one point.

"When we finally had everything in place to safely open Mr Willis' abdomen, we were astounded by the trajectory of the spike," he said. "It had transfixed parts of the intestine, but somehow found an incredibly improbable 'eye of the needle' line past all the major blood vessels, as well as missing the right kidney, liver and pancreas.

"To this day, on CT scans, I cannot draw a straight line between the entry and exit points without going through vital structures."

Emmanuel Huguet, a surgeon at Addenbrooke's Hospital, holding the forklift spike that impaled Cambridgeshire farmer Jonathan Willis. Credit: Cambridge University Hospitals

Mr Willis has since fully recovered and he and his wife Wendy have organised a charity ball in aid of the air ambulance to show their appreciation. A year after his lucky escape, he was able to present his lifesavers with £33,000 to help keep them in the air.

The father-of-five says he knows how lucky he was.

"I'm so, so thankful that there were so many expert teams available to help me get through it. Otherwise I'm sure the outcome could have been very different."

Mrs Willis can be seen on CCTV footage from the farm rushing to her husband's side immediately after the accident.

She described the scene as "like living my worst nightmare".