This is how Abigail Barragry’s amazing real life story appeared in the SUNDAY PEOPLE and DAILY MAILnewspapers… and on ITV DAYBREAK and CHANNEL 5 news…
When Abigail Barragry plunged over 100ft from a balcony during a party doctors did not expect her to survive…
By Alison Smith-Squire
8th July 2012
The 30-year-old beauty smashed so many bones in the fall from a top-floor flat her family were warned even if she miraculously survived she might never walk again.
Yet after months in hospital and 13 ops to reinforce her shattered body with metal pins, Abigail is now back on her feet.
And she credits the accident with meeting James Coupe – the love of her life.
Abigail, who walks with a stick, said: “Before the fall I was a perfectionist over my looks.
“I spent hours choosing exactly the right clothes, getting ready to go out and exercised five days a week in the gym.
“Now inside my body I have four plates, a screw and a foot-long metal rod as well as scars all over my body.
“I’ll never be as physically able as I used to be but the fall has put my life in perspective and I’ve never been happier.
“I’m lucky to be alive and if I hadn’t had this freak accident I never would have met James.”
Abigail’s life was turned upside down on New Year’s Day 2011.
The psychology graduate was working as an arts therapist with special needs kids in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur.
She said: “It was 2am and I’d been seeing in the New Year with a few drinks with friends.
“I felt dizzy and ran out on to the balcony of my apartment.
“But I slipped in my heels and the next thing I knew I found myself hanging over the balcony, my hands gripping the rail.
“Even now I don’t know exactly how I got there.”
Abigail went on: “Everything happened in slow motion.
“I remember seeing my hands and feeling panic as I realised they were gripping the balcony but my body was hanging over the edge.
“Then I saw my hands slip.
“It was as if they weren’t mine and I realised I was going to fall.
“Next thing I recall is waking up on the grass with passers-by standing over me.
“I remember telling them my legs hurt before I was engulfed with pain and passed out.”
Abigail – whose fall was partly broken by two canopies and a satellite dish – came round as she was being wheeled into hospital.
She said: “The pain was overwhelming – indescribable.
“A friend was at my side and I was begging him not to leave me. I truly felt I was going to die.”
In fact, Abigail’s condition was so critical – she broke 21 bones including both legs – it took surgeons 10 hours to stabilise her.
She said: “My beloved black satin evening dress was cut off me and I had so many life-threatening injuries it’s a miracle my body didn’t go into shock.
“My pelvis was cracked in two places, my jaw was broken, my right wrist was crushed and doctors believed they might have to amputate my right leg.
“I was in the worst pain I imagined could exist.”
The next two weeks were a blur as she fought for life, lapsing in an out of a coma.
Because she didn’t have health insurance her architect dad Antony, 60, used £40,000 of his savings to pay for treatment.
Meanwhile mum Pamela, 65, dashed to her bedside.
Abigail, whose parents are divorced, and who both spent days and nights at their daughter’s bedside, said: “I went from living and working my dream to fighting for my life.
“Lying in hospital unable to even lift a glass I wondered if I’d actually died and this was hell.”
Worse was to come when docs explained she could lose her right leg and would probably spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair.
Abigail said: “Landing on a grass area had saved my life but the bone in my right leg shattered on impact and dirt had got into it causing a nasty infection. Whole sections of bone were removed and my leg was in a metal case to hold it together.”
The case worked and against all odds the leg was saved.
Soon after, Abigail was allowed to get into a wheelchair – and decided to return to Sheffield.
She said: “I’d lost over a stone in weight and was so frail.
“I also needed further treatment and it seemed easiest to get it in the UK.”
But the fall not only broke her bones – it broke her heart too.
She said: “I had been seeing someone and although he was very supportive at the time, what happened pushed us apart.
“I remember thinking no one would want someone who is so scarred and in constant pain.”
Yet Abigail refused to give up hope. She said: “I was determined to get better.
“I told myself I still had all my limbs and I would walk again.
“I read book after book on pain management and underwent intense physiotherapy.
“Doctors said my wrist was so bad I’d never write again so I forced myself to use a computer.”
Gradually Abigail was able to haul herself out of a wheelchair and walk with crutches.
And last November she met surveyor James, 30, at her local.
Abigail recalled: “We clicked straight off. He was gorgeous.”
A few days later James asked her out on a date. Abigail said: “I felt incredibly nervous but he never saw me as the ‘patient’ – only as the positive person I am.
“I did wonder if he’d be put off by my terrible scars but he seems not to see them.
“We never stop making each other laugh – he’s my soulmate.”
Despite needing more ops on her leg, Abigail is convinced her near-death experience has had a positive effect on her life.
She said: “I’ve found joy in the smallest achievements and a new appreciation of how fantastic it is to be alive.
“I’m thrilled I can wash my own hair and make a cup of tea and I’m so fortunate my brain’s still intact.
“I’ve been to hell and back. But it’s made me stronger because nothing can ever be as bad.” Abigail wants her story to high- light the peril of dodgy balconies – last year at least 12 Brits had falls overseas.
She also wants to go back to work – and even hopes to return to Malaysia one day.
She said: “I want to create something really positive from this nightmare.”
Sell your story to a newspaper? If you have an incredible true story to tell, contact us via the form to the right of this page.