“Having us close by for support has had a massive impact on her miracle recovery”

“Having us close by for support has had a massive impact on her miracle recovery”

A fun-filled day turned into a disaster when Isabel had an accident. Read how she managed to stay strong and learn to walk again with her family by her side.

Guest blogger: Emma

In July last year, our daughter Isabel injured herself in a swimming pool at our home in Dorset. We were taken to our local hospital, where a CT scan showed she had broken her neck.

We were immediately transferred to Southampton General Hospital for specialist spinal surgery she was in desperate need of.

At this point she had no feeling from her chest down, so it was decided emergency spinal surgery was the only option. After five hours in the operating theatre, all the broken pieces of bone were removed and her neck was stabilised with a plate at the front and rods and screws at the back.

It was so much to come to terms with. We didn’t even think about what was going to happen, and we had nothing with us. I was still wearing my swimming costume underneath the clothes I’d thrown on in a hurry to get to the hospital. We had no idea how our lives would change.

The nurse who was looking after Isabel (and us!) on the morning of her surgery asked us where we planned on sleeping that night - but we had no idea and we hadn’t even begun to think about it. She told us she could make a referral for the Ronald McDonald House located on the hospital grounds, and we agreed to go ahead, not knowing what the House or Charity offered.

When we first entered the House, we were in a zombie-like state. We had no idea what to expect having just been through the scariest few hours of our lives. But a friendly House Assistant gave us a tour, showing us all the facilities we were able to make use of. The sense of relief we felt was overwhelming, and we were so thankful.

Being able to stay close to Isabel during her recovery process definitely had a positive impact on her wellbeing. She progressed so well over the weeks and months. Knowing we were just over the road kept her going.


After Isabel’s accident, our younger daughter Anabel initially stayed with family members. It was hard not being together as a family, but she could stay with us on weekends and then when it was the summer holidays, she came to stay for the whole six weeks! She made friends with the other children in the House and it was brilliant to all be together as a family again.

As Isabel was recovering, she was able to come over to the House during the day to spend time with us away from the hospital ward. We were finally together again, all four of us. It was an amazing feeling to be able to just have dinner together, watch a movie or relax on the sofa – just like a normal family again. We were able to celebrate Isabel’s 12th birthday all together in the House and I will always cherish that memory.

Little by little, day by day, she has gained feeling and movement in all of her affected areas. Her physio sessions three times a day have seen her improve to a point where if you met her for the first time you would have no idea that 11 weeks ago she was in a paralysed state.

We are one hundred percent sure that having us close by for support and encouragement has had a massive impact on her miracle recovery and we have Ronald McDonald House Charities and all the wonderful staff to thank for that!

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