A local triathlete who was brutally injured in an horrific road accident is defying doctors by running a marathon less than a year after being in a coma.
Mandy Draper was told by doctors she would never run again after being knocked off her bike cycling home from work last October.
But now miraculously she’s training to take part in a marathon later this year.
Born in Birmingham, Mandy, 51,lives in Pembroke. She suffered head injuries, a punctured lung, broken ribs, a broken wrist and broke her back in two places after the accident and following complications from spinal surgery, doctors decided to place her in a coma where her family were told to fear the worst.
But against all odds, Mandy made an astonishing recovery and now plans on running the Birmingham International Marathon - saying that her fitness beforehand may have helped her cheat death.
“Since that day, I have been grateful for every new day and will never take life for granted again,” said Mandy who has successfully completed 60 marathons and was working towards her 100th before the accident.
“The doctors said it was only because of my extreme fitness that I survived,” continued Mandy who celebrated her 50th before by doing Ironman Wales having learnt to swim only 18 months previously and started cycling seriously in 2010.
“The doctor said he had never seen anyone in all his career survive what I went through,” she added.
Talking about the accident, Mandy said: “Luckily for me, it all happened so quickly and all I remember is the car coming towards me, and then being woken in the ambulance.
“I was later airlifted to Morriston Hospital where it was discovered I had sustained horrific injuries, including a head injury, punctured lung, nearly all my ribs were broken, my wrist was badly broken, the handle bars pierced my left thigh just missing the main artery and my back was broken in two places.”
And Mandy was quick to pay tribute to the emergency services and medics who helped her.
“I have to say a special thank you to the Wales Air Ambulance for their swift response and the surgeons for saving my leg, fixing my arm and my back although I didn’t agree with the doctors who said that I wouldn’t run again!
“I was always optimistic, still hoping to go and see my son the following month in Australia who I hadn’t seen for nine years and spend New Year with him, however just hours after having a spinal fusion, I took a turn for the worst.
“I was struggling to breath and had terrible chest pain. It was later found that I had numerous clots on my heart and lungs and was whisked to ICU, where I was put on a life support machine, and I spent a couple of days fighting for my life.
“Doctors told my family there wasn’t much hope of me surviving because there were so many complications.”
The accident happened just four days after last year’s Great Birmingham Run half marathon, an event that she first took on in 2011 following the death of her mother.
It was the start of a relationship with running which she credits with saving her life.
Mandy explained: “I took up running in 2010 when my late mother was diagnosed with cancer. I found running really helped me escape and cope with the pain.
“In the summer of 2011 sadly my mum passed away and I remember whispering in her ear before she died ‘I will run a marathon in your memory’ and I will never forget the smile on her face. It was then when I found the Great Birmingham Run in the October of that year and I felt so proud to be running in mine and my parents’ home town and decided to run it for Cancer Research.
“It has been a long, painful road to recovery, and still have a long way to go, in fact I have had to go in for more surgery on my arm, but thanks to my physio and my titanium spine, I am happy to say I am back running.
“I am honoured and proud to be making Birmingham International Marathon my comeback marathon.
“I am still going to and from Swansea seeing various consultants also suffering ptsd.
“I’m not back on the bike yet and have been unable to swim due to injuries. I have started running again slowly, building the mileage and my fitness is nowhere near where it was 10 months ago, but I intend to run walk or crawl this marathon and raise money for Wales Air Ambulance.”
The Great Birmingham Run takes place on Sunday, October 15.