Schoolboy’s skull smashed into ‘jigsaw’ after being hit twice by train

Neurosurgeons had to place fragments of Barry's skull inside his abdomen while the swelling on his brain healed.

Ayr schoolboy’s skull smashed into ‘jigsaw pieces’ after being hit twice by moving train at Prestwick Town NHSGGC

WARNING: Graphic images

A schoolboy who was paralysed after a moving train hit him twice and fractured his skull ‘like a jigsaw puzzle’ is making a miracle recovery three years on.

Barry Wallace, who was 12 at the time, had been out with friends and had disembarked a train at Prestwick Town station.

He realised that one of his friends was still in the toilet, and impulsively chapped on the window trying to alert his friend that the train was pulling away when his leg was clipped by the train’s metal footstep and knocked him on to the platform on January 23, 2021.

As he lay on the platform, the metal footstep on the train’s next carriage collided with the back of his skull.

The impact caused his brain to take a significant blow and left his skull shattered.

Barry Wallace 's skull was smashed into at least ten pieces after he was hit by a train.NHSGGC

Paramedics rushed to the scene and the boy was taken to Glasgow’s Royal Hospital for Children where he was given a CT scan, which revealed that his skull was fractured into more than ten pieces of bone, resembling a challenging 3D jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces, and he was paralysed.

Surgery was required immediately and neurosurgeon Roddy O’Kane and his team worked through the night to save Barry’s life.

He said: “The priority was to let Barry’s brain swell so that it could heal. We needed to remove all the fragments of his shattered skull to allow it to do this. This meant that he was without the top of his skull for a few weeks. His surgery was outside of the norm due to the sheer number of pieces of bone fragment that we were dealing with.”

Bone fragments from Barry’s skull were placed inside his abdomen to keep them clean and alive while the healing process took place.

Fragments of his skull which had been kept alive in his abdomen were stapled together.NHSGGC

Barry had also broken three of the bones in his spinal column, which did not require any surgery and instead he was given a supportive brace to wear for six weeks.

Neurosurgeons and neuro-rehab doctors made sure the schoolboy’s brain continued to heal. Following surgery, Barry continued to be paralysed but he pushed on with the hospital’s expert team and, after a few weeks, had movement.

Almost a month on, on February 19 2021, Mr O’Kane replaced Barry’s skull fragments piece by piece and he was finally discharged from hospital the same year on April 12.

Barry’s mum, Emma Wallace, explained how her son never appeared defeated throughout the whole process.

“Barry never complained once. He put everything into his rehab and worked hard with the medical teams to push himself. He returned to school in May while in a wheelchair, getting a taxi every day as his transport,” she said.


“By October, he was walking to school and back to being active and having fun with his friends. He just loves life. There’s no other way to explain it.

“He continues to have limited movement in his left arm, but he just gets on with it. He is so resilient,” Emma added.

The 41-year-old mum also shared how grateful they are to the team at the Royal Hospital for Children for giving Barry the chance to lead his life normally, in what could have been a horrifically different outcome. Barry recently returned to the hospital where he got to thank Mr O’Kane for everything.

“It is three years on since Barry’s accident and it is still incredibly difficult to put our gratitude for everyone at the hospital into words. The support that the Ward 3A staff and the Trauma Team gave both me and Barry was unbelievable. And as for his surgeon, Roddy, we still can’t believe what he did for Barry. We’re eternally grateful. Our thanks go to everyone involved,” she said.

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