Man begged doctors not to amputate legs after horrific fall

Carol Vorderman recalls her hiking accident

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A hiker pleaded with doctors to not amputate his legs after he fell 30ft from a mountain and landed on his back. Jamie Hardesty was on an adventure holiday in North Wales with his wife Sammy when he went on a solo hike on Mount Tryfan in Snowdonia.

 

It was going well until he was trying to climb down to a ledge and he fell 30ft.

Landing on his back he broke his chest, ribcage, back in three places, and he had collapsed both of his legs in the fall.

The Newcastle-native was airlifted to the major trauma centre, at Aintree University Hospital in collaboration with The Walton Centre, where doctors assessed the extent of his injuries.

Mr Hardesty told the Liverpool Echo: “I knew I was in a bad way, but I didn’t know to what extent.

“I couldn’t move my legs, so I thought that I’d badly broken them. I was confused when I got to A&E because I was pleading with them not to amputate my legs, not knowing that it was referred pain from the damage done to my spine.”

 

During the initial assessment in the major trauma centre, consultant spinal surgeon Maggie Lee assessed him and conducted the complex spinal surgery he needed.

Mr Hardesty said: “Miss Lee was amazing at calming me down in those initial conversations. I was in surgery for a long time while she was reinforcing my spine. When I woke up I had no sensation below my hips, the damage was that extensive.”

As an active person, the prospect of never being able to walk again hit Mr Hardesty hard.

He had sustained Thoracic-level spinal damage, which affected his mobility, but as the injury was classed as an ‘Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury’ there is potential for recovery.

Mr Hardesty added: “I remember being very upset after the surgery because of the lack of feeling in my legs. I’m a very active person, I’ve run half-marathons in the past, I love walking and hiking.

“So facing the prospect of never being able to walk again hit me very hard. But Miss Lee and the staff on Horsley ICU were excellent in looking after me and keeping my spirits up.”

Since the injury, he has been receiving intensive physiotherapy and is so far up to walking with a mobility frame.

He said: “Progress is slow and I’m using a wheelchair mainly for the moment, but considering the extent of the damage I’m grateful to be this far along.

“I’m determined to carry on my rehabilitation and walk unassisted again. Next step – walking with crutches!”

Miss Lee said: “With an injury like this, initial treatment is to stabilise the spinal column so we can mobilise and treat the patient safely.

“The initial trauma causes the spinal cord to be inflamed and swollen, preventing the nerves from functioning properly and this can be devastating.”

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She added: “As at times, there may be no function, there can be loss of sensation, loss of movement or loss of control of body functions. As this settles, nerves can regain some function, especially with an incomplete injury and individuals may recover some function as late as 18 months after the injury.

“It is important to remember that all patients are individuals and outcomes can differ. Jamie had a great positive attitude, which plays an important part in his rehabilitation.

“He is surrounded by his supportive family and a great team of therapists. I only played a small part in his journey; he is an inspiration to other patients with spinal cord injury. I am so pleased to see how far he’s come in six months. I hope he continues to recover well.”

 

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