Co Armagh-born author Marisa Mackle (33) lost the use of her left arm in a freak accident - She feared her career was over, but during an amazing chance meeting with singer Chris de Burgh her arm was healed. Marisa, who is single and based in Dublin, tells Grainne McCarry about her astonishing recovery - and her link with Merisa Morgan, the de Burgh family's former nanny and Chris's one-time lover
What happened to your arm?
I locked myself out of my house one night. There was a cracked window pane and I thought I could just push the glass through and let myself in. My arm went through the glass and was shredded right through to the bone up to the elbow. I had to undergo six hours of emergency surgery and the doctors told me I would be in pain for two years and probably never regain movement in my hand.
What occurred on the night you say Chris de Burgh performed the healing?
I had been invited by Toni & Guy, the hairdressers, to attend a dinner at a restaurant. Chris's daughter Rosanna (the former Miss World) was there and she noticed that I was only able to eat my dinner with one hand. She told me that she had hurt herself before and that her dad had healed her.
When Chris came to collect her, he was shaking hands with everyone and he, too, noticed my bandaged arm. He grabbed it and I squealed with pain, but then Chris started telling me about his healing powers.
I think it's reiki, but I'm not sure. He moved his hand up and down above my arm - he wasn't even touching me or anything - and there was a warm sensation.
My fingers unclenched! My friend told me to lift something, so I reached for a pint glass, lifted it and said: "Cheers!" Chris wasn't surprised at all at the outcome. He has 100% belief in his ability.
Until then, I was in severe pain and feeling really desperate. I was taking 14 painkillers a day and the only time I wasn't in pain was when I slept. Chris said that a lot of my pain was in my mind, because I would wake up in the morning thinking that I was going to be in pain for the rest of the day. He said this would affect my recovery.
What has the reaction been to your recovery?
Really positive. People keep coming up to me and showing me their arms and legs, saying that they've gone to healers, too. I don't know if it's a blessing or a curse!
One of my sisters, Tara, is a surgeon, and my other sister, Naomi, is a GP. I come from a family that follows conventional medicine. I wasn't brought up with, or encouraged to follow, alternative therapies. I spoke to my doctor about it the next day and he said that you could never rule anything out.
Once you leave the hospital, you don't really have any emotional support, but that's the type of thing a healer can offer. Many of my friends and neighbours have since come forward to tell me about their healers.
A few newspaper columnists have found the whole thing hilarious, but they weren't there on the night of my accident and they weren't there when my father found me in a pool of blood. The doctors told me I would never use my little finger again and that it was lucky I wasn't a pianist because then my career would have been over.
I couldn't lift anything until the night Chris healed me. Now I play the piano to remind myself how lucky I am.
Funnily enough, there is a link between you and Chris's former nanny and lover, Merisa Morgan. Tells us more.
Not only are our names similar, but we both went to Univrsity College Dublin and studied French and English. People used to get us mixed up all the time as we dressed the same and would have socialised together. I remember when she got the job as nanny with Chris's family - we thought it was so exciting that she was going off to look after the children of a celebrity.
Why do you think there's been such a storm of publicity over Chris's 'healing' hands?
I don't know, to be honest. My phone was red hot for a while and there were requests for TV appearances and interviews. I'm just back from filming a documentary in London about it for Channel 4 called Celebrity Moments of 2006. It will be screened on New Year's Day.
I went on a radio show and a caller rang in to say that all faith healers are deluded. I thought that was very unfair. A few people have said to me that it was a load of codswallop ... I don't know much about healing, I just know what happened to me on the night.
And, er, is Chris planning to give up his singing career to unleash his healing powers on the public?
I'm not a spokesperson for Chris, but as far as I know he's not planning to set up a business healing people. Chris isn't new to healing, he's been doing it about 20 years. He discovered his ability at a very young age and it was common knowledge among family and friends. He never really announced it because he knew there are people out there who would ridicule him.
There has been some nonsense written that he saved a cripple lying on the side of the road, but the truth is that at his holiday home in Mauritius, his friend had a sprained ankle and he healed it.
Chris told me that anyone could be a healer, that everyone had a gift. I disagree - there is no way I could heal someone. To be honest, before this happened, I would have been a bit of a sceptic. I didn't know much about healing and never realised what a big deal it was. But so many people really believe in it and, now, so do I.