Paralysed mum intent on recovery

By Kiri Gillespie

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A Bay woman has fed herself and held her children for the first time since a surfing accident left her paralysed.

Surfer Amanda Lowry was riding her last wave of the day at Mount Maunganui when she hit a sandbar, dived off her board and broke her neck.

She was rushed to Tauranga Hospital and diagnosed with quadriplegia.

The Tauranga 41-year-old, partner Gemma Holroyd and young daughter Lola had just celebrated the addition of baby girl, Ziggy, to their family a week before the surfing accident on March 7.

Since the accident, Ms Lowry, who had just begun a new job tutoring and lecturing in sociology at Waikato University, has been recovering at the Auckland Spinal Rehabilitation Unit.

She was unable to feel her legs and could not move her arms after the accident.

Two weeks on, Ms Lowry has fed herself a chip and held her children in her arms - and she is determined to get back to normal.

"It's just the way I roll, just the way it is," she told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend.

"Just wait until I get back at university. I'll be doing a PhD when I get back ... whether I walk, kiteboard, roll or bike out of here."

Ms Lowry is expected to stay at the unit for another three to six months but was getting stronger every day.

"I need to be able to play with my 3-year-old. She's used to paddling with me on the paddle board. I have no choice, I have to do that again."

Ms Lowry said the community's support since the accident had been "huge" and had been a big factor in helping her focus on getting whole again.

"It would have been probably a real dark time, but instead there has been lots of laughter, craziness and huge support," she said.

"It has given me insight into another world that I have never known."

Tauranga Hospital staff who cared for Ms Lowry in the days after the accident made her laugh so hard she cried. "If there's ever a whinge about our healthcare system, they can shut up right now," she said. "It really is incredible, the support and love we've received. I really want to make that clear and thank those people."

An online charity trust has raised more than $10,000 since it went live on March 15.

A band of volunteers has combined to provide cooking, cleaning, gardening and childcare and locums have helped run Ms Holroyd's osteopath business while she helps Ms Lowry recover in Auckland.

Friend Brigid Macalister said the help had been "invaluable".

"People say their heart broke when they heard the news and it's from that same place they're offering help, from the heart. People have been incredible."

The couple say a special thanks for help received from Young Read Woudberg Accountants, Holland Beckett Lawyers, and G3 Financial Freedom. A fundraising effort is under way through Tauranga's Assault Kite Boarding Centre.

Donations can be made at www.givealittle.co.nz/cause/galztrustfund.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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