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Mandy's Marvellous Marathon

A woman from Pembrokeshire is running the Birmingham International Marathon on Sunday in aid of Wales Air Ambulance, less than a year after a horrific car crash left her fighting for her life.

Mandy Draper, 51, a local triathlete from Pembroke, was told she would never run again after being hit by a car while cycling home last October.

She was airlifted by Wales Air Ambulance, but left in a coma with serious head injuries, a punctured lung, broken ribs, a broken wrist and a broken back in two places. After complications during spinal surgery, Mandy was placed in a coma and her family were told to expect the worst.

Day by day, however, Mandy survived and went on to make an astonishing recovery. Just months later, Mandy began training for the International Birmingham Marathon and will join the starting line on October 15, in aid of the flying medics who helped save her.

Mandy said: “Since that accident, I have been grateful for every new day and will never take life for granted again.”

A keen triathlete who completed Ironman Wales shortly after turning 50, Mandy added: “The doctors said it was only because of my extreme fitness that I survived. They had never seen anyone survive what I went through.

“Luckily for me, it all happened so quickly and all I remember is the car coming towards me.

“I was airlifted to Morriston Hospital where it was discovered I had sustained horrific injuries, including a head injury, punctured lung, nearly all my ribs were broken and my wrist was badly broken. The handle bars pierced my left thigh just missing the main artery and my back was broken in two places.

“I have to say a special thank you to the Wales Air Ambulance for their swift response and the surgeons for saving my leg, and fixing my arm and my back – although I didn’t agree with the doctors who said that I wouldn’t run again!

“I have always been optimistic. I remember still hoping to go and see my son the following month in Australia, who I hadn’t seen for nine years, and spend the New Year with him. But after having spinal fusion surgery, I took a turn for the worst.

“I was struggling to breath and had terrible chest pain. It was later found that I had numerous clots on my heart and lungs and I was whisked to ICU, where I was put on a life support machine, and I spent a couple of days fighting for my life.

“Doctors told my family there wasn’t much hope of me surviving because there were so many complications.”

Mandy still travels to Swansea for treatment and consultations, and suffers from PTSD following the accident.

“It has been a long, painful road to recovery, and I still have a long way to go. In fact, I have had to go in for more surgery on my arm, but thanks to my physio and my titanium spine, I am happy to say I am back running.”

Born in Birmingham, Mandy added: “I am honoured and proud to be making Birmingham International Marathon my comeback marathon.

“I’m not back on the bike yet and have been unable to swim due to my injuries. I have started running again slowly, building up the mileage. My fitness is nowhere near where it was 10 months ago, but I intend to run, walk or crawl this marathon and raise money for Wales Air Ambulance.”

To sponsor Mandy’s comeback marathon, please visit her JustGiving page at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mandy-draper1

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