Teen battles back after horrific fall

HE was told he may never walk again after a freak accident left him lying in a hospital bed for ten weeks.But thanks to an amazing recovery, a Felixstowe teenager is today back with his family at their Thurston Court home and ready to return to school.

Tom Potter

HE was told he may never walk again after a freak accident left him lying in a hospital bed for ten weeks.

But thanks to a miraculous recovery, a Felixstowe teenager is today back with his family at their Thurston Court home and ready to return to school.

Deben High pupil Conor Jones fell 16ft from a tree, landing on his back and breaking four bones in his spine.

The 15-year-old's second vertebrae snapped as he landed on a tree stump, leaving doctors to presume the worst.

Conor has only a hazy recollection of what happened on June 24 this year but he does remember the efforts his friends made to save his life.

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He said: “I was climbing a tree, as boys do, and went to move myself along a branch, but it snapped.

“I was unconscious for five or ten minutes and when I came around I was in a daze.

“I felt like I was paralysed from the armpits down and I was coughing up blood.”

Connor was with three friends who rolled him on to his side to clear his airways and phoned for help.

He was rushed by the RAF's Sea King search and rescue helicopter to Ipswich Hospital, where doctors discovered the extent of his injuries.

Dr David Sharp, a consultant orthopaedic spinal surgeon, took out the broken bone, repositioned the spine and pinned it back in place with 39 staples.

Conor's mum Emma didn't know what to expect when she heard her son had been hurt.

Mrs Jones, 38, said: “I didn't realise how serious it was until I got to the hospital. I thought the worst scenario would be a broken leg.

“It's heartrending to see someone you love lying there and not being able to help them.

“He got Bell's palsy a few days after the accident and one side of his face dropped so it looked like he'd suffered a stroke.”

Conor spent his first few days in hospital in intensive care. From there he was moved to the children's ward for five weeks and then on to Stoke Mandeville Hospital's Spinal Injuries Centre in Aylesbury.

A whip round at Felixstowe docks between colleagues of his dad, Sean, meant Conor could go to Aylesbury with a brand new laptop computer.

Mrs Jones praised her son's resolve and the efforts of those involved in his recovery, saying: “He came such a long way, especially when you look at the photographs of him in hospital. He could have just wallowed in self pity.

“We really want to thank everyone who helped Conor, especially Mr Sharp.

“I'm so pleased his friends were sensible lads and used their brains. Whenever he asks to go out with them now he says: 'You can trust them, they saved my life!'”

LASTING damage Conor Jones sustained to his spinal cord has left him an incomplete paraplegic and doctors believe he will never regain movement in his feet.

Conor said: “I was told I would have a 70 per cent chance of walking again. I've now got enough use in my legs to walk with but I can't move my feet. I've lost the feeling in my hips and my legs are numb.

“I've got callipers on my legs which look like shin pads and keep my feet at a 90 degree angle, so it takes me a while to get anywhere.”

Conor uses crutches for stability when he walks short distances and uses a wheelchair for longer journeys.

He will have to return to Stoke Mandeville for check-ups and have physiotherapy once a week.

He wasn't expected to leave hospital until Christmas but he is already preparing to return to school in a couple of weeks - and he doesn't want to be treated any differently when he goes back.

He said: “They want to change everything for me and give me special chairs to sit on but I don't want them.

“I don't want someone following me around all the time and I hope it won't limit me in the future. I wanted to become a mechanical engineer and work on tanks in the army but I don't think I'd be able to carry 50 kilos on my back.”

Conor was a keen basketball player before his accident, turning out regularly for Deben Jutes. A few sessions of wheelchair sports at Stoke Mandeville has encouraged him to register with Disability Sport and become even more successful at wheelchair basketball.

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