Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland teen paralysed by Spanish balcony fall discharged from hospital

Niamh McGeoghegan before the accident
Niamh McGeoghegan before the accident

A Northern Ireland teenager who was paralysed after falling from a balcony in Spain has been discharged from hospital after four months of treatment.

Niamh McGeoghegan (18) suffered multiple injuries when she fell at a friend's 18th birthday party in the early hours of St Patrick's Day in Benalmadena.

Her devastating injuries included three fractures to her skull, swelling on her brain, fractured ribs, a punctured lung and shattered vertebrae, which severed her spinal cord. Her injuries left her paralysed from the waist down.

Her mother Claire, speaking to the Irish News, said that her daughter is "fighting back".

"She gets very down about it, but I tell her she is truly amazing," she said.

A new picture released six months on from the terrible accident shows a smiling Niamh standing up in hospital as she continues her recovery.

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Niamh McGeoghegan

Niamh, along with mum Claire (47) and dad Damien (49), moved from Co Down to Spain four years ago.

Following the accident, doctor's told Niamh's family that she had suffered "life-changing injuries". But her mother has revealed she has been discharged from hospital but still has a long way to go in her recovery.

"Niamh was discharged on July 17 and is now under the care of the Costa Del Sol hospital," Ms McGeoghegan said.

"She has physio three times a week, but we had to apply for rehab for her in Seville, which we are still waiting on. She still needs proper rehab and I imagine initially she will have to stay in Seville.

Niamh after the accident
Niamh after the accident

"But she is getting strong day by day, so hopefully this rehab will come soon and we can get the next stage under way.

"Occasionally she can move her toes, the physio says her right leg is stronger than her left and she has strength there, so we need her to be able to get the right treatment so she can build on that progress."

The family have moved to a ground floor apartment so Niamh could have wheelchair access following her discharge from hospital.

Ms McGeoghegan said that her daughter does get "very down" about her recovery.

"I say, five months ago you were almost dead, but your body is fighting back," Ms McGeoghegan said. 

"We've been told by doctors it takes at least three years for a body to get over a traumatic spinal ordeal that she has went through. Sometimes we notice memory loss, she comes across younger at times, like 13 or 14 rather than an 18-year-old. But compared to how ill she was and the damage to her brain, it's amazing how far she's come on.

Niamh McGeoghegan in hospital with her dog Brandi
Niamh McGeoghegan in hospital with her dog Brandi

"But she's bound to have good days and bad days, but she is determined that she's going to get better. She's hoping to do some online courses.

"She'd like to do business. I think that would give her something to focus on. It's been a massive learning curve, especially for Niamh, as she's had to deal with so much.

"But she's a brave girl and she's determined. She wants to get better and I know she can do it."

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