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Hi, I'm Mathew McHugh. Sydney's happiest amputee.
$8,073 Raised
115% of $7k goal
89 contributors
2 Years running
on April 2nd I suffered a huge paragliding accident that left me hanging for dear life and making out alive was a close call. Some say that someone less strong would not have made it. Medical teams were saying the loss of blood should ... More ...

Survival Against All Odds.

"It was at this moment I realised that this would be more than a rescue, but a race against time. I was running out of blood".

On April 2nd I suffered a huge paragliding accident that left me hanging for dear life and making it out alive was a close call. Some say that someone less strong would not have made it. Medical teams were saying the loss of blood should not have let anyone make it. And here I am, happy to be alive.

Happy because I won't let a stump stump me! I'm happy to be alive with no other serious long-term damage and will be able bodied to walk again in months with prosthesis. 

If you are sensitive to reading about blood, I'm very understanding of this piece of advice I heard from a personal trainer once. Toughen the hell up!!!

On April 2nd 2014 I was paragliding at the headland between Monavale beach and Warriewood in Sydney Australia when I had a sudden glider failure that through me at speeds edging close to free fall into the cliff. What made a much higher velocity accident was that just before impact, the glider tried to correct itself and I sling shotted into the cliff at speeds estimated to be well over 100 kilometres per hour. I had shoes on at the time of flight. They were instantly disintegrated and fell on impact. 

Upon the realisation I wasn't going to fall from the cliff into the ground with shrubs holding the canopy, I quickly realised it was going to be a long haul with injuries to what I thought at the time were broken feet and I'd be all good after. Then I looked down to find first responders and/or anyone that could help and I saw my feet. The left foot was the worst with blood pouring out like a beheading from Game of Thrones, in between heart pumps an artery dangling with the sandstone cliff and trees below as a backdrop with a new artwork being created from my situation on the rocks below. It was at this moment I realised that this would be more than a rescue, but a race against time. I was running out of blood.

It was a very emotional moment knowing that what I was seeing would more than likely be the last things I would ever see, but I wouldn't let it get the better of me. So I tilted my head back and looked out to the sea and tried to relax. As a person that loved the water it helped somewhat, but the constant pain reminded me of my plight while I started passing in and out of consciousness. 

I soon heard the drone of a distant helicopter marching its way across from somewhere south and I thought that would be my rescue and it shan't be long. The helicopter got closer and closer and then hovered nearby my rescue sight. And it did just that, hovered, and hovered, and hovered. I was crying out to the first responders on the ground asking what was happening. They told me that they had to rescue me a different way, don't worry it'll be ok. I found out later there were technical reasons for this. I shouted out that I was going to die. They tried to convince me that I wasn't and I thought to myself that they are trained to say that even if you are for the chance you'll hang in there longer. I knew it was inevitable without their fast assistance getting me into medical hands that my families last look at me would be in a coffin. 

It took more than 2 hours to be lowered from that cliff face and what I went through in that time was both excruciating and unreal. I couldn't believe this was me, on the edge of death doing something I loved. And during these moments there was only one thing I could think about. Love - My family and friends. How much I'd miss them, how much life we would miss out on. Then I quickly pushed those thoughts aside as I didn't want to think of missing anyone. But to see them again. This gave me strength on all levels of my being and I refused to die. I even turned down an offer to enter heaven!

Once I was finally carefully lowered down from the cliff from the rescue and paramedic abseilers, I was met with the rest of the paramedic team and specialist field Doctors from the chopper waiting on the sand. At this moment I shouted out "give me something, give me something real good and real fast (gasp) - I need to be out of pain. He told me "don't worry, I've got something special for you shortly". After much talking about what to give me (which took what felt like hours) and the many questions I was asked that I could miraculously answer, they finally sedated me with an injection and the next memory was waking up in hospital two weeks later.

The ordeal didn't end ton the cliff that day as my family was told there was an almost certainty that I wouldn't make it when I arrived to emergency surgery. I lost close to 90 percent of my blood and the fact I'm alive to talk about it is an absolute medical marvel and miracle. 

The transfusions were numerous, litres upon litres of donated blood pumped into me in a vein attempt to save me. Well vein in a true sense of the word as my veins were running on empty. 

Then my family was prepped that if I survived, the blood loss would make it impossible for my brain function to return to full order and I would most likely suffer moderate to severe brain damage. Then they were hit with the bad news that as a result of my broken back and pelvis, there was a good chance I would be paraplegic for the rest of my life just to add to the list of possibilities including not waking up again. All of these didn't end up being a reality thankfully. as the doctors fought rigorously going above and beyond to save my life. My poor family have been through lots, but it's just wonderful they didn't have to say goodbye. A two-week wait isn't so bad on forced hindsight.

I'm so happy and thankful to the amazing staff at RNSH and Narrabeen fire and Rescue and all other persons involved in my rescue for saving my life. When I walk again, I'll be meeting everyone on foot and look forward to shaking their hands all the while shaking a little inside and I can't wait.

The hospital stories onwards will be shared on here and more details on my ordeal will be in my memoir that I'm slowly writing. What I shared here was only the tip of the iceberg of what I went through on that casual turned casualty day. My injuries are what led me to become Sydney's most happiest amputee. The story begins now.

A positive outlook for the future and you can help!

I am currently still in rehabilitation and trying to find ways to fund my prosthesis. As you could imagine the process over time is rather expensive as there's the original leg purchase which can cost up to $20,000 or more (depending on what option is recommended by the prosthetic team), medical bills and regular replacements of working parts throughout the life of the prosthesis. Ongoing maintenence and eventual replacement of my prosthesis will happen every two years on average with smaller components being replaced every 6-12 months. This will be a process throughout my whole life and I will need to find ways to fund my future. As someone who isn't rich, this is an expensive hurdle and I'm reaching out for assistance to anyone that may be able to assist. Every dollar counts. Whether it's $1 or $10,000 you donate, I would appreciate the act of kindness towards my future. I'm looking forward to a fully functional, active lifestyle for many years to come.

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