Joey mounts brave fight after horror riding accident

WHEN little Joey Donald was injured in a horror horse riding accident, his heartbroken family feared they might lose him.

Doctors told the eight-year-old's parents to prepare themselves for the reality he may never breathe on his own again.

But, five months on, Joey is progressing with his recovery, breathing on his own and learning to move and talk again.

Joey was riding the neighbour's horse on a Sunday in November when he fell, with his foot stuck in the stirrups.

He was dragged 300m, suffering multiple skull fractures, a brain injury, a collapsed lung, a torn liver, a broken nose and elbow and third degree abrasions to his back.

 

Eight-year-old Tablelands boy Joey Donald suffered multiple skull fractures, a brain injury, a collapsed lung, a torn liver, a broken nose and elbow and third degree abrasions to his back.
Eight-year-old Tablelands boy Joey Donald suffered multiple skull fractures, a brain injury, a collapsed lung, a torn liver, a broken nose and elbow and third degree abrasions to his back.

 

The family from Yungaburra, in Far North Queensland, spent two months in the intensive care unit at Townsville Hospital, before being transferred to the Queensland Children's Hospital.

Dad, Michael Donald, said the family were taking it week by week, and didn't know how long Joey would have to stay in hospital.

"When he was flown to Brisbane it was like a switch flicked inside of him … I don't know if it was because of the flight, but he woke up and said 'Mum' and 'Dad' for the first time since the accident and repeated words around him," he said. "It's small steps, but he has made a lot of progress, in just a couple of months for what's supposed to be a two-year journey."

Joey is in a wheelchair, has regular hydrotherapy lessons, physio and is being helped by an occupational therapist and speech pathologist.

 

Joey Donald has been at the Queensland Children’s Hospital since the 15th January but is making steady progress. Picture: Jamie Hanson
Joey Donald has been at the Queensland Children’s Hospital since the 15th January but is making steady progress. Picture: Jamie Hanson

 

The fall damaged essential nerves in Joey's head, which doctors say will cause some short term memory issues. He will need an operation for his elbow in the future, which currently does not have full movement.

"Joey's courage and willpower, combined with the determination of the QCH rehab team, are achieving amazing progress," mum Sarah-Jane Mohammed said.

It's taken a big toll on Joey's family, with his dad, mum and brother, Billy, by his side almost every day.

Joey was known in the family's community as a big-hearted little guy, who previously raised thousands of dollars for drought-impacted farmers. Locals have now opened their hearts and wallets for the Donald family, raising more than $52,000 through crowd-funding.

"He's always been a kind, caring little boy … I guess it's the old saying 'What goes around comes around'," Mr Donald said. "We've had huge, overwhelming support from our local community in the Tablelands and from family and friends.

"We're just happy to have our little boy."



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