Injured rider makes comeback from coma

  • A rider severely injured in a fall out hacking three years ago has astounded doctors by making a full recovery

    A young woman who suffered serious head injuries after the horse she wasriding fell on her while out hacking, has amazed doctors by making a full recovery.

    Twenty-four-year-old Sarah Kemp from Kidderminster defied doctor’s predictions that she had less than a 1per cent chance of survival.

    The accident happened in July 1999 when Sarah was escorting three riders on a hack in Kinver Edge (pictured), a local country park in Worcestershire.

    As the ride made their way up some sandstone steps, Sarah’s horse tripped and she was thrown forwards before the horse rolled on top of her.

    Unconcious and bleeding from her eyes, ears, nose and mouth, she was taken by air ambulance to Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham. Sarah was then transferred to the city’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where she was put on a life support machine.

    Her parents were warned it was unlikely she would survive.

    “My parents were told that outlook was not good,” explains Sarah. “Doctors said that if I made it through the next 12 hours it would be a miracle, and it was more than likely I would be either be brain dead, brain damaged, deaf or blind and paralysed.”

    After running tests, doctors discovered Sarah was suffering from a blood cloton her brain stem and gave her just a 1 per cent chance of survival. She had also suffered a fractured skull and her face required surgery to pin it back into place.

    “For the first 24 hours they sedated me, so that my brain didn’t haveto do anything,” says Sarah. “They hoped this would give it a chance to recover.”

    “I couldn’t breathe on my own so surgeons performed a tracheotomy and I stayed in critical care for the next two weeks.”

    For the next seven weeks, Sarah remained in a coma until she finally woke to the sound of her father’s voice telling her to “hurry up and get out of hospital in time for her 21st birthday”.

    “I couldn’t speak because of the tracheotomy, but I gestured I wouldmost definitely be out for my birthday!”

    True to her word Sarah was out of hospital just two weeks later.

    “Because I had been in a coma for so long, I’d lost a lot of muscle and had to learn to walk, talk and eat all over again.”

    Her rapid recovery surprised doctors who at one point had asked her parents if they wanted to switch her life support machine off. Her case is so unusual that she is often used as case study in lectures.

    After her accident Sarah returned to the saddle briefly, but as she explains she no longer now rides.

    “I was a competent riding club competitor who enjoyed taking part in one-day events, hunter trials and dressage, but after my accident I realised I could never be the rider I was, and I’d rather remember riding as it used to be.”

    Sarah has since made a full recovery, although she admits she gets tired more easily since her fall.

    “The day after doing something strenuous I am shattered andif I’m tired my balance can be affected and I become a bit wobbly. Other than that I don’t think I’m any different to how I was before the accident.”

    Sarah will soon be spending time with Rehab UK, a charity which helps people who have suffered brain injuries return back to the workplace.

    Read advice on how to cope with an accident:

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