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Brave Emma faces future with courage

PUBLISHED: 18:04 27 March 2008 | UPDATED: 10:44 03 July 2010

Dominic Bareham

TO look at Emma Woolnough as she happily chats away at her family home you wouldn't think that just three weeks ago she was told she would have to lose part of her left leg after a horror road accident.

Dominic Bareham

TO look at Emma Woolnough as she happily chats away at her family home you wouldn't think that just three weeks ago she was told she would have to lose part of her left leg after a horror road accident.

But such has been the 23-year-old's recovery, she been able to return to her home in Upper Cliff Road, Gorleston a mere 10 days after surgeons at Norfolk and Norwich Hospital removed her left shin and foot.

And she has accepted the life-changing incident which most people would not want to think about.

A sea of cards, presents and balloons, some from complete strangers, bear testament to the gravity of her condition, but such is her determination to overcome her injuries that she has been out to visit nearby relatives.

Among the goodwill gestures were messages of support from the clergy at Gorleston Baptist Church, which she was passing when the accident happened, along with a card from an elderly couple who were also injured.

On Monday afternoon, February 25, a car mounted the pavement in Lowestoft Road, Gorleston, ploughing into Emma and the couple. Emma's left leg was horrifically damaged.

She was taken to James Paget University Hospital, as were the elderly couple, and then airlifted to the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital.

Since the accident, Emma has been overwhelmed by all the support she has had, including one from a second world war veteran who spoke to her brother Thomas, 18, about how he had lost a leg in battle but had gone on to lead a fulfilled life and hoped she could do the same.

Colleagues at Coral Bookmakers in Gorleston, where she was heading when the accident happened, have also sent her their good wishes, while her father Kevan's workmates at Bird's Eye collected £250 for her.

Emma said: “It's lovely receiving all the cards and presents. It has made me feel good knowing that so many people care.”

She is now undergoing regular physiotherapy to enable her to adapt to a prosthetic limb she is due to have fitted within the next six to eight months.

But first she has had to come to terms with her limited mobility, especially as she had an active social life which included regular visits to the nightspots Caesars, Atlantis and Pub On The Prom with friends.

Her supportive friends have regularly dropped in to lift her spirits, but she is having to spend her days watching TV as she begins the long recovery process and finds she gets tired quickly, partly as a result of the exercises she does at home to strengthen the muscles in her upper body and legs so she is stable on her feet when she receives the new leg.

“I get tired so easily and it is frustrating because I am used to going out and doing things and the smallest thing makes me tired,” she said.

Paramedics battled to save her leg in the aftermath of the crash, but after an initial operation to insert metal rods to stabilise the limb she had to face the news she would lose the section seven inches below the knee.

She told the Mercury: “My doctor took my parents out of the room and told them, and then he came in and talked about the damage to my leg.

“When I had the accident I thought that my leg could not be saved, but thanks to the paramedics' efforts I had put these thoughts out of my mind. But the doctor announced the news in such a way I knew it was the best option and obviously I was devastated because at the age of 23 you don't expect to be dealing with this sort of thing.”

Recalling the accident she said: “I heard the car coming and there was nowhere I could go. I tried to hold myself up against the wall, but couldn't and fell down.

“I just remember looking at my foot and thinking, 'Oh my God, my foot has gone,' because I could only see the white of the bone and blood everywhere.”

Such was the extent of her injuries, she was relieved to have lost her glasses during the collision and could not see clearly how badly broken her leg was, otherwise she would have panicked more.

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