Thursday, January 06, 2011
In February last year, Scotland wing Thom Evans suffered a horrific injury that left him paralysed temporarily, unable to ever play rugby again. While its meant a massive change in his life, the 25 year old is looking ahead to a bright future.
The injury took place during the classic Six Nations game between Wales and Scotland at the Millennium Stadium that ended with a last gasp try for Wales, shattering the hearts of all Scottish fans in many cases, neutrals too.
For Thom though, what happened on that day was far more serious. He sustained a severe neck injury that led to him officially announcing his retirement from rugby in November. Hes since spoken about the incident, stating that it felt as though someone was stabbing him in the back, turning the knife, time and time again.
Waves of pain followed after the slipped vertebra from his collision left him with no sensation in his body. "It was like I was in a dream. I knew I was paralysed and then the fear started to set in. I knew immediately I was in real trouble," he said.
"I thought I would die right there on the grass wearing my Scotland shirt, or at least be spending the rest of my life in a wheelchair. For three minutes I lay on the turf as scared as I ever will be in my life."
Shortly after, feeling returned and Thom felt a surging pain that had him pleading with the paramedics on the scene. James Robson, the Scotland and British & Irish Lions team doctor, said that in over 20 years of international sport, that was the worst on-field incident he had to deal with.
When injuries like that occur, how they are treated over the next few minutes can be vital. Any incorrect movement in the wrong direction could lead to serious paralysis.
Two intense operations followed.
"The surgeon pointed to my neck where he was going to make the first incision and explained my back was so badly damaged that they had to cut me from the front where my vocal cords were. They would hang them to one side and move my spine back into place through the front of my body," he explained.
The second op was to strengthen his neck, where metal rods were inserted to fuse part of his spine. Both were successful procedures and while Evans had retained hope of getting fit and playing again, it was soon advised that the wise choice was to pursue something else.
"My walk back home from the hospital when I got that news was one of the longest, most depressing walks I have ever made," he said.
He now has other goals as a career in athletics, golf, and even a return to his on stage days, could follow. While retirement from rugby was a tough pill to swallow, he appreciates that things could have turned out a whole lot worse for him on that fateful day. We wish him all the best.
Wales come back to snatch victory from Scotland (2010)
Credit: Thanks to Total Rugby