Thursday 25 April 2019

'It was a big shock to us' - Irish man starts fundraiser for partner who suffered spinal injury on 'holiday of a lifetime'

Anita Jackson (42) and her partner Manu Gallagher (48) from Co Donegal
Anita Jackson (42) and her partner Manu Gallagher (48) from Co Donegal
Rachel Farrell

Rachel Farrell

AN Irish man has appealed to the public for donations for his girlfriend's recovery fund, who suffered a serious spinal injury on holiday over two years ago.

Manus Gallagher (48) from Co Donegal met his partner Anita Jackson (42) in an Irish pub in London in 2011.

In December 2016, the couple went on what should have been a "dream holiday" to Kenya, where Anita was born. They had planned to spend time along the coast, on a safari, and then to spend Christmas with Anita's mother in Nairobi, who she had not seen in three years.

On the first day of their holiday, the couple were sunbathing on an elevated area above the beach when Anita lost her grip while turning her sunbed.

Anita fell 8ft off an elevated beach area on what should of been a 'dream holiday' in Kenya.
Anita fell 8ft off an elevated beach area on what should of been a 'dream holiday' in Kenya.

She stumbled backwards and fell 8ft on the beach below, resulting in T12 Vertebral Fracture and incomplete Spinal Cord Injury. 

Anita spent seven hours in surgery at Mombasa Hospital and three days in intensive care before she was airlifted back to London.

After spending time in rehabilitation at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore, the pair realised that they wouldn't be able to return to the apartment they lived in for the last three years as it wasn't wheelchair accessible.

They spent some time in an adapted flat in Canary Wharf before making the decision to move to Burtonport in Co Donegal, where Manus was raised.

"It was a big shock to us. Before that we were living and working in London, going out at the weekends, seeing the city and the markets in Camden, and all of that suddenly came to a stop," Manus told Independent.ie.

"Everything was harder, so we decided to go home to Donegal where I'm from."

Anita uses a Motomed Viva 2 leg and arm trainer, which maintains her strength and fitness, in between rehab appointments.
Anita uses a Motomed Viva 2 leg and arm trainer, which maintains her strength and fitness, in between rehab appointments.

Anita has continued her rehab and has two sessions a week on the Ekoskeleton Bionic Suit, which allows her to get up and walk with the No Barriers Foundation.

However, between appointments she uses a Motomed Viva 2 leg and arm trainer, which maintains her strength and fitness and "is of huge benefit to her rehab", Manus said.

"Unfortunately it's supplied on a three month rotation through the HSE which means, she has it for three months and then it goes to someone else, so the hard work she done for the three months is lost until the machine gets returned again.

"As soon as it was gone, she was lost without it."

Alongside his family, Manus set up a GoFundMe page last week to help foot the bill for a Motomed of Anita's own, with over €3,000 raised so far.

"It’s been brilliant, most of the response has been from family and friends. We're very grateful," Manus said.

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