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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
“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.