Teen brain damaged in harbour accident goes ziplining on family holiday

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A TEENAGER left severely brain-damaged after spending up to 20 minutes face-down in the sea has been able to zipline on a family holiday, thanks to the tireless devotion of her parents.

Three years ago, Katie-Lou MacLean almost drowned in Eyemouth Harbour, Berwickshire, in seas so stormy rescuers had to risk their own lives to reach her.

The horrific accident left Katie-Lou, now 17, quadriplegic and unable to speak.

Nikki and Andy with 17-year-old Katie-Lou
Nikki and Andy with 17-year-old Katie-Lou

 

Her parents, Nikki and Andy, have battled endlessly to give their only child as normal a life as possible.

Speaking for the first time about her recovery, they revealed that Katie-Lou has has been performing stunts, relaxing in spa pools, and even has her own van, equipped with a personalised registration plate.

The couple have done everything possible to make their daughter happy and comfortable
The couple have done everything possible to make their daughter happy and comfortable

 

Katie-Lou also attends a special school five days a week.

Recent pictures and video show the teenager strapped into a harness and zooming through the air at the Kielder Forest Park, Northumberland, where she also was able to enjoy a large swing.

The trip, at the beginning of last month, was the first full family holiday that they have been on since the accident.

Katie-Lou with her personalised number plate
Katie-Lou with her personalised number plate

 

Andy, 38, said: “I think we were more scared watching her than she was doing the stunts, it’s amazing how well she did.

“She has come such a long way since her accident. We never thought that kind of thing would be possible.”

He added: “Myself and Nik kind of felt that Katie-Lou would be bed-ridden and any kind of outings or family holidays would be a thing of the past, but that hasn’t been the case.

The teenager enjoyed a hot-tub so much she fell asleep
The teenager enjoyed a hot-tub so much she fell asleep

 

“Both ourselves and the doctors are continually surprised by her. There was never really a prognosis because of the extent of her brain damage, so we just focused on making her life comfortable and keeping her happy.”

Katie-Lou has also been taking part in water therapy sessions to help relax her muscles.She enjoys being in the water so much that once, in a hot tub, she fell asleep because she was so comfortable.

Katie-Lou on a swing whilst on holiday with her family
Katie-Lou on a swing whilst on holiday with her family

 

When she turned 17, an age when most teenagers would be learning to drive, they bought her a ‘C4 KLU’ customised number plate, which stands for ‘Care For Katie-Lou’, to go on her adapted van.

Friends and family also set up a donations page for Katie-Lou following the accident, which allowed the MacLean’s to spare no expense at making their daughter comfortable.

Andy said: “We’ve learned that Katie-Lou can achieve more than we thought possible just by being positive and being willing to challenge her.

She was only 14 when the accident happened at Eyemouth harbour
She was only 14 when the accident happened at Eyemouth harbour

 

“We need to remember that life isn’t over. If we can provide a quality of life we can get enjoyment out of it, both for Katie-Lou and us.”

“We’ve been helped by an enormous amount of people, for which we are very grateful including the emergency services and those who helped rescue Katie-Lou, the fantastic staff at Sick Kids Edinburgh, Maden Eco builders who helped with our house adaptations, The Grove School, the generous community of Eyemouth, family & friends and countless other health professionals and well wishers.”

Katie-Lou was just 14 when the accident happened on June 4, 2012. It is believed that she tried to rescue a friend who was swept into the sea, and ended up being smashed against the harbour walls and rocks.

Her friend was rescued unhurt, but Katie-Lou spent up to 20 minutes face-down in the water before she could be pulled free.

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