Thursday 17 October 2019

WATCH: 'Miracle' moment teenager who broke his neck in rugby accident walks out of hospital

Patrick Greeves with mother Julie, father Bill and brother James
Patrick Greeves with mother Julie, father Bill and brother James

Allan Preston

A TEENAGER who was told he may never walk again after a horrific rugby injury has stunned doctors by leaving hospital on his feet.

Patrick Greeves (19), from Tyrone, suffered a broken neck while playing with Royal School Dungannon on tour in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, on August 2 last year.

Medics told him he had a "complete" spinal injury, meaning it was unlikely he would ever walk.

But after eight months of gruelling therapy, Patrick stunned his family by walking unassisted out of Musgrave Park Hospital.

The inspirational teenager told the Belfast Telegraph he felt lucky to be alive.

"I was at the bottom of the ruck and somebody landed on my head, it pushed it down and it dislocated my spine at my neck," he explained.

"As soon as that happened I heard the crack and felt my whole body just seize up and I couldn't move at all. It was horrible."

He said quick thinking by his coach Gareth McClintock prevented further harm.

"He instantly came over and held my head, if I had been moved it could have been so much worse," he added.

"Even since then he's been visiting every week and he's been absolutely fantastic."

Patrick needed immediate surgery to fix the location and a fracture.

"They told me it was probably a complete injury and I would never have much movement below my shoulders," he said.

"I didn't know how to react.

"It was pretty shocking, but I still had that hope I would walk again."

His parents Julie (52) and Bill (53) quickly flew out to be at his bedside.

"It was dreadful to get that call," said Mrs Greeves.

"The morning after Patrick had his operation it didn't look like there was going to be an awful lot of improvement."

After 16 days the teenager made the 20-hour flight back to Belfast by air ambulance to begin his recovery with 15 weeks of bed rest.

Some feeling remained in his toes, which gave him some hope.

"It was really difficult but I just thought if there's some kind of message going down there then maybe there's a chance," he said.

"I later got some flickers and spasms in my legs and got into a wheelchair. Once I got that I really started to push forward and my body started to recover rapidly."

He said finally walking out of hospital "just means the world".

"It shows that all the people who have been praying for me and thinking about me really helped and it can encourage people in a similar situation to hold on to that little bit of hope."

His mum added: "It felt just like the most enormous weight lifted, it was such a wonderful moment.

"We've had people in churches everywhere praying for him and now we've got our own miracle, we're so grateful." Looking to the future, Patrick is now back in the family home and will continue to attend physio sessions.

He's due to start a music technology course in Armagh before continuing the subject at Queen's University in Belfast.

"The hope is I'll be able to walk without any assistance," he said.

"I still need a wheelchair for long distances, but the hope is I eventually won't need that."

Belfast Telegraph

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