x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Dubai cyclist hit by car to have specialist treatment in South Africa

Richard Holland was hit by a car in the early hours of October 11 as he cycled from his home in Motor City along Al Qudra Road to the cycle lane that heads towards Bab Al Shams.

South African Richard Holland sustained severe brain injuries after he was hit by a car while training for an Ironman Race. Courtesy Holland family
South African Richard Holland sustained severe brain injuries after he was hit by a car while training for an Ironman Race. Courtesy Holland family

DUBAI // The cyclist who sustained severe brain injuries when hit by a car while he was training for an Ironman contest will be flown home to South Africa today.

Richard Holland, 30, was hit from behind by a car in the early hours of October 11 as he cycled from his home in Motor City along Al Qudra Road.

He suffered severe injuries to his brain, as well as broken ribs, punctured lungs, a fractured sternum and a fractured right fibula.

Mr Holland, who has lived in Dubai for four years, is cognitively aware but can only communicate by laughing and blinking with one eye.

His health insurance will cover his flight to Cape Town, alongside his mother and a team of doctors and nurses.

“With the type of brainstem injury he has had he also has his motor movement affected, so he can’t move and he can’t speak,” said Mr Holland’s long-time girlfriend, Krystyna Maciejewski, 31.

“He will have to relearn how to talk again and how to move his body. His brain needs to rediscover how to send connections to the body.”

Ms Maciejewski, a Canadian, will leave her teaching job in Dubai to join him early next month.

Although still unable to move his body, Mr Holland has shown signs of recovery after months of physiotherapy and operations for his brain injuries at Rashid Hospital and The City Hospital.

He is now stable enough to be sent home for therapy at a neuro-rehabilitation centre.

Ms Maciejewski said it was “impossible” to know how much, if at all, he would recover.

“It really varies,” she said. “It might take several years before we can see significant progress.”

Fund-raising efforts continue for Mr Holland, who is a well-loved figure in the UAE sporting community.

His friends will run the Dubai Marathon on Friday to raise funds for the “Back on Your Bike” charity to support his treatment.

Other fund-raising events will include a black-tie boxing event in May.

The driver of the car involved was arrested then released pending a criminal case at the traffic court. The case took place this month but no details have been released.

“We can’t disclose the results of the court case because they were made confidential only to the family members,” said Ms Maciejewski.

Donations can be made at www.backonyourbike.com.

azacharias@thenational.ae