‘Instant tragedy’: Man’s spine shattered in backyard pool
A dive in the pool on a summer afternoon had devastating effects for Stefan Carroll, whose life changed forever in a matter of seconds after hitting his head.
The Irish-born 28-year-old, described as 'active, fun-loving and caring', was spending his Saturday afternoon with friends on February 13 when he sustained a horrific spinal injury after hitting his head on the bottom of the pool.
He shattered his C6 vertebrae and broke his C5 and C7. He had two major surgeries at the Princess Alexandra Hospital to stabilise his neck and replace his shattered C6 with a titanium cage.
The incident has left him paralysed from the chest down.
Speaking with The Courier-Mail, Stefan's mother Clodagh said the ordeal was "life-changing in an instant".
"He's really come a long way in a couple of weeks," she said.
"He is off the ventilator and is able to breathe on his own, he is speaking, eating, drinking - he has some movement in his arms, but none in his fingers and then from the chest down he is paralysed.
"We are hoping for a miracle of course. We are all learning. It's a major life change for all of us … our hope would be with his arm movement that rehabilitation will have positive effects on getting his fingers and hands moving."
While the incident has changed the course of Stefan's life, he is maintaining a positive outlook.
"He is positive, he is digging deep and showing absolutely amazing courage," she said.
"He has bad days - we all have bad days - and then he has good days. He can't wait to get into rehab."
Ms Carroll Sibbald has been living in Australia for seven years, while Stefan has been in Brisbane for roughly six. Unfortunately, he is not a permanent resident and therefore funds are being raised for his treatment independently.
Stefan's boss, Liam Sullivan has created a GoFundMe page which has raised more than $130,000 and counting.
The donations will go towards giving Stefan the best possible future with significant rehabilitation, mobility equipment and ongoing care and support.
Ms Carroll Sibbald said her family is "blown away" by the amount of support they are receiving in Australia and back home in Ireland.
"We have been so lucky with the support from our friends and family, we're blown away by the generosity from people here and in Ireland," she said.
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Originally published as 'Instant tragedy': Brisbane man's spine shattered in backyard pool