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All stories of recovery

Defying all odds after my 80ft mountain fall

Ako spent years rebuilding her life after a climbing accident.
Ako medal 1

I’ve always been an outdoor person and love being active.

My husband and I are both experienced climbers, so it was natural for us to choose the beautiful S'Estret mountains in Mallorca as the destination for our family holiday in 2016.

We were enjoying a good start to the holiday with friends and our two-year-old son Noah.

I was ascending the first ‘warm-up route’ of the trip. Something I have done hundreds of times before over the past 10 years.

I was at the top when I took off the rope from my harness and threaded it through an anchor bolt before buckling it back into my harness. I missed.

That’s when I fell 80ft to the ground. That’s 25 metres.

I was unconscious by the time my body reached the rocky surface. I don’t remember anything else. All I know is that medical professionals feared I would not survive the day as my injuries were that serious.

Thankfully, I did.

When I woke up in hospital, I remember being in a lot of pain.

I had a severe head injury. I had tunnel vision. My left leg, spine and shoulders were broken. I had metal pins keeping me together.

It took me a while to process my injuries. How am I going to look after Noah? He’s only two and needs his mum.

As I had climbing insurance, we were covered for all the medical and travel costs. After three weeks – once I was deemed strong enough – I was flown back home to Leeds. I spent the next eight weeks on the trauma ward at Leeds General Infirmary undergoing various surgeries.

Recovery is a long process. For the first year, I struggled even to move. I went through so many frustrations and emotions. I even questioned why I had survived.

For someone who loves being outside, I found it really difficult being trapped inside for long periods. I had to keep focused that I would recover and get back to what I love doing.

While in hospital we were offered support from Day One.

It was lovely to know that someone was there to help us. Who cared and could answer our questions.

I felt fortunate enough not to need much help from Day One. If I didn’t have the insurance, then it would have been totally different. For the rehabilitation I needed, I am sure we would have had to sell the house.

I get exactly why Day One is important. I can see the difference they make to other people.

My mum flew over from Japan to see me and help my family. I watched Noah grow up in front of my eyes, frustrated that I couldn’t do more with him.

Slowly I was able to move a little, and then I managed to walk short distances. It took three years for my leg fracture to heal. Eventually I was able to ride a bike again and then start running. Seven years on and I’ve even got back to climbing.

That’s why I’ve been inspired to fundraise, so Day One can be there for other people in my situation when they need the help they deserve.

I took on a triathlon in August 2022, raising more than £800 for Day One.

I think my story is pretty amazing to show how the human body can recover. I still have problems with my vision in my right eye, but I am so grateful to be alive. To be with my husband and son.

I am so grateful to be able to do what I love, spend time outdoors, and be active again. I am so grateful to those who helped me: my family and friends, the doctors and nurses at the LGI Trauma Unit, and my occupational therapist.

I hope my story will give some hope to others who have experienced life-changing injuries.

Since you’re here…

…we have a small favour to ask.

More people than ever need Day One’s support, but we don’t have the income to keep up with demand.

We’re determined to help people rebuild their lives after a catastrophic injury, wherever they are in the country.

If this page has inspired or moved you, please consider chipping in to help. We can achieve great things with you by our side, so please consider supporting Day One.

You can give as little as £1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

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