Michael Gray, 55, a husband and father of five from Yass has spent half his life protecting his local community with the Rural Fire Service as a Group Captain.
Having seen many rescue victims from car accidents suffer spinal injuries, late December 2017 after his farm buggy crashed into a gully, he knew the challenges that lay ahead of him.
"I know enough about spinal injury accidents with car accidents to know that I was in a really bad way," said Michael.
Michael spent three hours in the scorching paddock with no feeling from his neck down, before his wife and daughter found him.
"I couldn't move anything I was totally paralysed from the neck down. I had to put up with things like meat ants, eating the back of my neck. I had to eat them when they got onto my lips because I didn't want them to eat my eyes and my lips," he said.
Michael arrived at Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick via a rescue helicopter and was taken straight into surgery. This is when his family were given the devastating prognosis. "The surgeon had advised us that it was unlikely he would walk again," said his daughter Isabel.
Michael was determined to walk again and spent the next five months enduring painful and intensive therapy in the spinal unit at Prince of Wales Hospital. One of only two units in NSW.
Thankfully some nerve fibres in Michael’s spinal cord were spared from complete injury, giving him more options for recovery.
In May of 2018, Michael walked out the front doors of Prince of Wales Hospital unassisted.
Now home, Michael is still on the road to recovery but thanks his family and the Prince of Wales Hospital team.
"My family's been amazing, they've never left my side,"
“I'm massively grateful to all the team here at Prince of Wales. Because without them, I wouldn't be walking out. There's no ifs or buts." Michael said.
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