30th January 2018

A Pembrokeshire woman has defied the odds and recovered after an accident left her fighting for her life.

Mandy Draper, a local triathlete from Pembroke was told she would never walk again after being hit by a car whilst cycling home in October 2016.

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

Taking every day at a time, Mandy began to show signs of improvement and turned a corner. She survived her ordeal and went on to make a remarkable recovery.

Just months after her accident Mandy was already looking for a new challenge and decided to start marathon training, despite being told she would never run a marathon again.

Since leaving hospital, Mandy has completed the International Birmingham Marathon, Lanzarote Marathon and the Cadburys Marathon in Australia.

Mandy said: “I am 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 that 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.”

 “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.”

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

Recently Mandy was able to thank the crew who airlifted her whilst visiting Wales Air Ambulance’s South Wales airbase. CCP Ben Seabourne and Dr Ian Bowler met Mandy who already has several running events planned for 2018.

Mandy added: “I’ll never forget what my surgeon said to me, - I love a success story.”