28th Jun, 2022

Balsall Common teenager vows to walk again after horrific tree fall

Felix Nobes 27th Jun, 2018

A MEDICAL student and promising rugby player has been left paralysed after he broke his spine when he fell out of his childhood tree.

Xander Van Der Poll was taking a study break and decided to walk his dog with his girlfriend Maddie in Lavender Hall Park in Balsall Common when he spotted the ancient oak he used to climb up as a youngster.

The first year medical student at Bristol University clambered up the tree but lost his footing and plunged eight-foot to the ground smashing his back on the exposed roots.

The former King Edward School deputy head boy in Stratford spotted the tree and climbed half-way up before falling to the ground.

Pictures taken at the scene show paramedics desperately trying to stabilise Xander following the accident which happened on May 24.

The 19-year-old remains positive that he will become a doctor and be able to sit his exams in the next couple of weeks.

Speaking from his hospital bed, he said: “I was walking my dog with my girlfriend at the time.

“I saw the tree I used to climb as a child and decided to climb it. I’d climbed it a million times growing up and never fell once.

“When I hit the floor I immediately knew there was something wrong.

“It felt like my legs were still in the air but when I looked down my legs were lying flat on the floor.

“Even though I could see them on the floor it still felt like they were in the air.

“When I touched them I couldn’t feel them at that point I knew something was badly wrong.

“It really hit me hard at that moment, just thinking well this is the end of my life.

“Everything was rushing through my head about my entire life, I just thought to myself what are the things I will never he be able to do again.

“I thought to myself, I’m never going to play rugby again, I’m never going to be able to walk again, I won’t be able to do anything with my life ever again.

“I thought that I won’t be able to be a doctor. It hits you like a brick, the realisation that you’re almost useless from the waist down.

Xander was taken to University Hospital of Coventry and Warwickshire where he was told he had suffered a burst fracture in his spine.

He added: “Being a medical student I knew that it was serious because the spinal cord runs through a canal in the bones, and the bone burst and part it imprinted on my spinal cord.

“They removed those imprints from my spinal cord and they just fixed it with titanium rod and screws.

“I’m determined to walk again. Hopefully over a period of a months or years the connections of the cords will be remade.”

Xander has started a blog on Instagram called Six Weeks In Bed about his treatment and recovery which has already attracted more than 2,500 followers.

He added: “The amazing support I get from the rugby club I play for and from all my other friends has really help me get through my stay here.

“There has been points where I have doubted that I will ever walk again.

“I had complete strangers wishing me luck, I got sent a monkey in the post by someone from Germany.

“It’s just these little things that gives me hope, when you’re in the situation it can seem like a dark place.”

Xander has also been in touch with Ed Jackson, who plays for Dragons rugby team in Wales, who broke his neck and was told he would never play rugby professionally again.

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