WHEN medic Charlotte Thompson-Edgar saved the life of Afghan war casualty Mark Ormrod, it was the start of 10 years of agonising doubt over whether she had done the right thing.
The Royal Marine was so badly hurt he had to have three limbs amputated and a doctor in the conflict zone suggested he may have preferred to die a hero’s death instead of live with such a mutilated body.
RAF medic Charlotte Thompson-Edgar meets war hero Mark Omrod, whose life she saved 10 years ago[/caption]
The comment haunted Charlotte — known to her pals as Charlie — right up until the day a decade later when she came face to face with Mark, and he thanked her for saving his life.
She finally knew she’d done the right thing — and burst into tears.
In an exclusive interview with The Sun on Sunday, RAF medic Charlie — who saved the lives of 600 soldiers — recalled: “My life was turned upside down the day we saved Mark.
“His life was hanging by a thread and his injuries were so appalling it was like a horror film.
Royal Marine Mark served in Afghanistan[/caption]
Mark won four medals at Prince Harry’s Invictus Games in Toronto, Canada, last year[/caption]
“I’d joined up and became a medic to save lives and make a difference.
“I was elated that we had saved Mark but I was floored when the doctor asked me, ‘Do you think you have actually done that young soldier any favours keeping him alive? Do you not think he would have wanted a hero’s death instead?’
“My whole world was rocked to the core. I had never even considered not saving his life and I was haunted by the events of that day for years.
“I was elated Mark was alive but I was deeply upset at the comments made about not allowing him to die.
The 35-year-old from Plymouth, Devon, had three limbs amputated after he stepped on an IED[/caption]
Charlie was haunted for years after a doctor suggested she should have let Mark die a ‘hero’s death’[/caption]
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“From total dedication and conviction, I found myself not wanting to go out on another rescue.
“I lost belief in what we were doing out there. It was horrible. I started to think about my own mortality. There were times when I just wanted to go home and be with my family.
“Now, after speaking to Mark and asking the questions I’ve wanted to ask for so long, I know we made the right decision to fight for his life. I couldn’t be more sure of anything.”
After Mark was flown back to Britain, Charlie, 43, from Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, followed his life from afar, monitoring news coverage and asking after him through medical channels.
He had been told he would never walk again but she saw how he defied the medical experts — most notably by tackling a run across America on prosthetic blades in aid of military charities.
I’d been a mess… the smell of Mark’s blood and the dust never left me
Mark says he has a ‘fantastic life’ and owes Charlie ‘everything’[/caption]
Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan chat with Mark during the Invictus Games[/caption]
And last year 35-year-old Mark, from Plymouth, Devon, won four medals at Prince Harry’s Invictus Games, the international sport event for injured veterans.
He was dubbed “Superman” by the Prince, who became a friend and invited him to his wedding in May.
Mark is writing his autobiography so he invited Charlie — now a squadron leader — to meet him to explain exactly what happened on the day he nearly died.
The pair met at Headley Court, the forces’ medical rehabilitation centre in Surrey, where Charlie works.
Two of my children wouldn’t even be here today without Charlie’s dedication and skill
Mark asked Charlie to meet him so he could thank her for saving his life[/caption]
After hugging her, Mark told The Sun on Sunday: “We’d crossed paths fleetingly over the years at military events but we never had a chance to talk properly.
“I wanted to ask her questions and thank her for saving my life. I had no idea just how important it was to her, how much everything had affected her.
“I told her to never, ever doubt what she did that day. She has suffered greatly. Her sacrifice has meant I was given a second chance. Without her I would have died. I owe her everything.”
Mark — dad to Kezia, 13, Mason, six, and Evie, three — added: “Two of my children wouldn’t even be here today without Charlie’s dedication and skill. She’s an inspirational woman and a true hero.
Prince Harry dubbed Mark ‘Superman’[/caption]
“I have the most amazing life, and I cherish it every single day. And it’s all down to the woman who refused to give up on me as I lay dying in her care. I thank her from the bottom of my heart.”
It was in the early hours of Christmas Eve 2007 that Mark was out on a routine foot patrol when he stepped on an improvised explosive device.
Charlie’s medical response team was stunned by the scale of his injuries. He was unconscious, with his right leg and right arm hanging by a thread of skin. His left leg had been blown off in the blast.
He had suffered catastrophic bleeding and was near to death.
Medics saved Mark using a risky emergency procedure they’d learned only days earlier[/caption]
Charlie said: “It was vital to get fluids into Mark or else he’d die but the loss of his limbs meant there was nowhere to pump the fluids and the veins in his remaining left arm were flat and unresponsive.”
On the helicopter flight back to HQ at Camp Bastion, the team decided to opt for a risky emergency procedure they had learned only days earlier but had never used.
The intraosseous infusion – unlicensed for civilian patients because it is so dangerous – involved drilling a hole into Mark’s hip to deliver life-saving fluids.
Charlie said: “We had one shot on each hip to make it work but the skin wasn’t taut enough on my side and it failed. I pulled the skin as tight as possible for my colleague to try the other side and this time it went straight in.
Prince Harry invited Mark to his and Meghan’s wedding last May[/caption]
“That was the life-or-death moment. We got fluids in and bandaged his wounds.”
Within 24 hours Mark was back in the UK being treated by specialists at Selly Oak military hospital in Birmingham.
Back in Afghanistan, Charlie, who was later awarded the Royal Red Cross 2nd Class for her bravery, kept tabs on his progress.
She said: “I was overwhelmed to learn Mark had pulled through and was making amazing progress but it didn’t help the way I was feeling.”
Charlie carried on for seven more tours of Afghanistan but at a great personal cost.
Without the medics, I would be maggot feed. Now I live a fantastic life
She said: “I had to learn to emotionally detach from patients. I knew Mark by name but I refused to write down or learn the names of any soldiers after him. It was the only way I could cope.
“I had changed, and everyone could see it. My mum was desperately worried and it led to the breakdown of my marriage. I went off the rails.
“No matter how hard I tried, the smell of Mark’s blood and the dust never left me. I became angry and impatient, a mess emotionally.
“The only way I could make sense of any of it was to keep touring Afghanistan, obsessively trying to exorcise my demons.”
Mark is pictured with fellow Marine Ben McBean, who also lost a limb due to a landmine blast[/caption]
Meanwhile Mark married Becky, 33, with whom he has Mason and Evie. He became a motivational speaker and fundraiser for the Royal Marines Association.
He said: “People tell me they would never have been brave enough to be a Royal Marine but to us it was no big deal. The medics are way beyond that — without them I would be maggot feed.
“It sucks that I was blown up but the likes of Charlie have the horrors of my injuries stored in their memories for ever.
“I live a fantastic life with a gorgeous wife and children, thanks to Charlie.
“The only way I know how to repay her is to cherish every moment of my second chance.”