Man begged doctors not to amputate his legs after agonising fall on holiday with wife

A man begged doctors not to amputate his legs after he was badly injured in an agonising fall while on holiday with his wife.

Jamie Hardesty decided to go on a hike alone on Mount Tryfan in Snowdonia while they were enjoying a break in Wales.

He tried to reach a ledge and plummeted 30ft down a mountain where he was left in agony after landing on his back.

The climber was airlifted to a major trauma centre at Aintree University Hospital where he was found to have broken his chest, ribcage, back in three places. He also collapsed both of his lungs in the devastating fall.

Jamie 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 his initial assessment at the Major Trauma Centre, Consultant Spinal Surgeon Miss Maggie Lee assessed Jamie and conducted complex spinal surgery he needed.

The 31-year-old, from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, 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, he was hit hard by the prospect of never being able to walk again.

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

Jamie said: “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, Jamie has been receiving intensive physiotherapy in the community to help get back on his feet and is so far up to walking with a zimmer frame.

Recently, he came back to The Walton Centre in LIverpool to visit Miss Lee and the teams that helped save his life and mobility.

Jamie 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 was so happy to come back and see the staff and Miss Lee to show them my progress.

“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.

“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.”