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He was about to stare death in the face a
second time, quite literally.
"Mum and dad's approach was, 'Dean there's
no need to grieve, Jenni's in heaven,' but you
have to grieve," he said.
"I had all this built up tension and anger and
grief and one day I was out on the farm and I
had the double barrelled shot gun.
"I had both barrels cocked and aimed at me."
But he did not pull the trigger.
"I guess what stopped me was the thought
that, while it would have put me out of my
miser y, it would have created a whole new
wave of sorrow for my friends and family," he
After intensive sessions with a psychiatrist, Mr
Lanyon returned to Melbourne and completed
Upon graduating, he obtained a position with
the US diesel engine company Cummins.
He worked at the firm's Scoresby office until
1994, when the company transferred him to
their head office in Columbus, Indiana.
In 1996, six months after he and his now ex-
wife welcomed their first child, Nick, his life
Unrelated to the car accident 10 years earlier,
Mr Lanyon collapsed at work suffering a brain
"I had a headache that wouldn't go away and
when I went in to give a presentation I passed
out on the floor,'' he said.
After being rushed to the emergency room at
Methodist hospital in nearby Indianapolis, the
For the majority of people, the rupture
generally proves fatal.
But during seven hours of neurosurgery, Dr
Thomas Leipzig clipped the aneurysm to stem
the blood flow.
To get to it, he removed a piece of Mr Lanyon's
brain that could not be replaced.
"They thought it was game over after the
aneurysm burst," he said.
"Dr Leipzig said to me later, 'If five people have
a brain aneurysm that bursts, three will die
straight up, one will be permanently mentally
or physically disabled and one will potentially
be able to resume a normal life."
"But in his next sentence he said, 'But those
stats don't count for you because your
aneur ysm was very deep down and you
shouldn't be here."
While Mr Lanyon emerged from the surgery
alive, worse was to come.
After showing initial signs of recovery, he
lapsed into a coma for 10 weeks.
"My family flew over and they basically
thought that was it. Mum and dad had to sign
legal disclaimers because they were tr ying
experimental medicine, they read me my last
rites," he said.
"My family have told me they expected to
bring me home in a coffin."
Against the odds, he emerged from his coma
weighing just 48kg.
Four months of gruelling rehabilitation
ensued, where Mr Lanyon had to learn
everything from scratch - walking, talking,
The aneurysm and coma had rendered him
with the capabilities of a newborn.
Post recovery, Mr Lanyon and his wife named
their second son Thomas after his
"In the scheme of things, as far as I'm
concerned, you have God at the top and one
step below you have Dr Leipzig," he said.
But home was calling and the family returned
By this time, however, Mr Lanyon's life was
taking a different turn.
"It (the aneurysm) changed my focus. The car
crash should have done it I guess but I was
so young when it happened."
When a redundancy offer came up with
Cummins, Mr Lanyon seized the opportunity
and moved his family to Ballarat, where he
retrained as a secondary school teacher.
While he did not go on to pursue that career
path, a presentation he gave during the course
of his studies helped him craft the one he
But while he says he loves giving the
presentations and the opportunity they give
to "make the world a better place", breaking
into the speaking circuit has been tough and
does not pay the bills.
To help on that front, two years ago he
purchased his favourite Ballarat restaurant,
Thai Fusion, and couldn't be happier with
being the face of the eatery.
"Engineering is very much computer and
machine based and this is very people based
and that's what I love about it," he said.
"As the old saying goes, 'Work a job you love
and you'll never do a day's work'.
"At the end of the day, I have had a major
assault on my brain and am very fortunate to
"I have no illusions of living a long life but
given that I celebrate and make the most of
longer life than most jokers."
Story: Kim Stephens
Dean Lanyon's sister Jenni.
Dean Lanyon with neurosurgeon Dr Thomas Leipzig,
the man who save his life, and his son Thomas.
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