The Wigan police hero who has spent 17 months away from home fighting for his life

A Wigan police officer who went from fighting crime to fighting for his life is now hoping to get home to his family after 17 MONTHS in hospital.

Darren White, who worked on the frontline for Greater Manchester Police for more than 20 years, suffered a near fatal intracranial bleed, causing a hemorrhagic stroke in September 2021.

More than 17 months on from when he was admitted to Salford Royal Hospital for emergency surgery, the 40-year-old now wants to come home to Ashton-in-Makerfield to finish off his recovery.

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The father-of-two, who was on the scene during the Manchester Arena bombing and the riots during his time as an officer, has been left with left side paralysis and some cognitive impairment as a result of the severe stroke.

Darren White with his wife Jo and two daughters Abbie and LolaDarren White with his wife Jo and two daughters Abbie and Lola
Darren White with his wife Jo and two daughters Abbie and Lola

On the day he was taken to hospital, Darren’s wife Jo got a message from her daughter who had just got home from school – she had noticed something was wrong. Sounding slurred in a phone call to his wife, Jo asked a friend to check on Darren, who swiftly called 999 after paying him a visit.

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Shortly after arriving at Salford Royal, the family was told that Darren had been taken to surgery to operate on a “very aggressive” intracranial bleed and that he may not survive.

During a time when visiting was restricted due to Covid pressures in hospital, Jo commended the hospital staff for their life-saving work and care. “I am so very thankful that Darren was saved by the amazing surgeon,” she said.

Darren in hospital after he suffered a intracranial bleedDarren in hospital after he suffered a intracranial bleed
Darren in hospital after he suffered a intracranial bleed
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“We were given the bleakest picture, but the doctors also still had hope. The ICU (Intensive Care Unit) was tough, the girls were taken to see their daddy and be involved right from the start.

“I couldn’t not include them. We didn’t know if any visit to see him would be their last.

“We were only allowed one hour per day, again due to Covid. We played music, rubbed cream on his feet and painted his toenails, something the surgeon commented on when he came out of surgery, lots of chatting and doing what we needed to get through and to try and get a response.

“I was commended by the ICU staff for bringing the girls, they said it was lovely to see children on the unit and have them involved.”

Darren with his two daughters before his stroke.Darren with his two daughters before his stroke.
Darren with his two daughters before his stroke.
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After more than 10 days unresponsive at Salford Royal, Darren regained consciousness and has been on the road to recovery since – although there is no clarity on whether he can get back to where he was physically and cognitively.

Jo, who described her husband as ‘dedicated daddy’, revealed how challenging the last 17 months have been for her, Abbie, 13, and Lola, eight.

“It has been horrendous,” she said. “At the time it felt really surreal because we were living in crisis mode.

“We have had amazing support from friends and family who have cared for us when we spent days going to intensive care. They have been a massive support helping with the children, the shopping and making sure we were fed.”

Darren with his two daughters after his strokeDarren with his two daughters after his stroke
Darren with his two daughters after his stroke
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After the “amazing” job done by the neurological rehabilitation team at Trafford General Hospital, Jo explained that Darren still has to use a wheelchair, but has his speech, language and long-term memory almost entirely back to what it was. He is having speech therapy and still struggles with his short-term memory.

Darren is in slow stream rehabilitation which is an individual recovery process for those on a prolonged journey of recovery. This is more common among those with brain injuries who are unable to undergo intensive recuperations.

He is still rehabilitating and his family want him home so they can do that together. But the next step is huge, and comes with a financial roadblock, as he now requires a house that can facilitate his needs.

Their home, just outside Ashton town centre, needs a completely new extension to give Darren a downstairs bedroom and wetroom – as there is no room for a lift up the stairs. Including additional features such as ramps to make the home wheelchair friendly, the costs have been quoted between £70-80,000 by contractors.

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The disability grant available from Wigan Council of £30,000 only covers a small portion of that – which is why family friend Lara Dickinson set up a GoFundMe page to help them find the additional £50,000 they need.

Jo explained that she was not keen to ask for people’s help for the funds at first, but realised that the family desperately wanted to be together again. With the help of Lara, the fundraiser has already had more than £6,000 in donations since the start of February.

Darren on the mendDarren on the mend
Darren on the mend

“His personality hasn’t changed at all,” Jo explained. “Darren is still Darren.

“He does have a massively positive mentality which has been good to help his recovery. He has been really positive as he wants to get better for his girls.

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“He would love to walk again but that is not agiven and we don’t know if he will. We have to keep that hope and keep trying.

“He is the most amazing daddy and has always been involved. He was dedicated to his job as a police officer but when he came home he was dedicated to his children.”

Darren worked on the frontline for GMP between 2003 and 2019 before he joined the force’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit in 2019. The police have been a big part of the support team surrounding the family, the Local Democracy Reporting Service was told.

Jo stated how grateful she is to Darren’s colleagues who have been a “massive support” which she indicated shows how well they look after their own. There have been many that have donated to the GoFundMe who Jo also is grateful to in this time of need for her family.

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She also noted how the charities Headway, Stroke Association, Wigan and Leigh Carers Centre and The Brain Charity all reached out offering their advice and support to her and the girls. Now, having not known much about strokes before, Jo wants to raise awareness of just how life changing and impactful they can be to families.

“I never realised that anyone with a brain could have a stroke,” she said. “Any age can be impacted.

“It is not just an older person that can suffer from a stroke and then they are back recovering in the next few weeks. It can be really debilitating and life-changing.”

There are a number of fundraising events coming up in the near future to help generate more cash for the family, with a charity car wash on Sunday, March 5 being one of many to come. Leigh Fire Station will be hosting the event between 10am and 3pm.

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To donate to the GoFundMe page and help get the White family back under one roof, go here:

Darren and Jo WhiteDarren and Jo White
Darren and Jo White
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