A man who survived a car crash in which his head was ripped from his spine has married his girlfriend – just days before his life support was switched off.
Tony Cowan lost control of his car in 2014 and suffered a serious neck injury – so severe medics described it as almost ‘unsurvivable’.
But the determined 31-year-old, from Chester-le-Street, County Durham, fought to live as normal life with his partner of 12 years, Karen Dawson.
But in the lead up to Christmas, Tony’s pain became too much and he made the decision to switch off his ventilator – but not before marrying his fiance.
Tony Cowan (pictured with his wife Karen) lost control of his car in 2014 and suffered a serious neck injury – so severe medics described it as almost ‘unsurvivable’
Tony is pictured with his partner of 12 years Karen before the accident in 2014, when he lost control of his car in his hometown of Chester-le-Street
‘We got married four days before he died in hospital,’ said proud wife Karen, 29. ‘It was just with family.
‘It was amazing and it was happy and sad because we knew what was coming. He always wanted to get married but we just never got round to it.’
The pair said their vows in Tony’s hospital room which was decorated by staff using fairy lights, sheets on chairs and aprons as ribbons.
Karen, who wore jeans, boots and a blouse bought on the spur of the moment, praised the hospital team for their help and generosity.
Tony with his mother Pepsi and wife Karen
Although they had their wedding booked for May, Tony decided to bring it forward due to the pain.
After having his ventilator switched off, Tony was laid to rest with the wedding dress his bride would have worn.
‘He would have carried on living like that, it was just the pain,’ she added. ‘There was nothing they could do.’
Karen was her husband’s full-time carer and from March 2016 until December looked after him at their home.
Although he battled with pneumonia and chest infections which resulted in admissions to hospital, the pair spent every moment with each other.
‘He just wanted to live as normal a life as possible,’ she said. ‘Even though he was the way he was he wanted a normal lifestyle.
‘We would stay up late watching films, order takeaways. We were together all the time.
‘I just want everyone to know how proud I was of him. He was strong and determined but it was the pain in the end that took him.
‘If you were close he had the biggest heart. There was no one like him in the world.’
An inquest into Mr Cowan’s death at Crook Coroner’s Court on Wednesday concluded he died as a result of a road traffic collision.
Coroner Leslie Hamilton said the crash on September 9, 2014, led to his neck injury and left him dependent on a ventilator which he asked to be turned off.
In the lead up to Christmas, Tony’s pain became to much and he made the decision to switch off his ventilator – but not before marrying his fiance