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Leon's fortunate twist of fate

Wednesday 27 January 2021

Without the PA Hospital (PAH), Hervey Bay's Leon Adams probably wouldn't be here today to tell his story of how he almost died doing something he loves.

An avid skydiver who had just a year earlier survived a breast cancer scare, Leon's accident on April 7, 2019, came after a faulty piece of hired equipment led to an accident, which resulted in him landing on his side at more than 50kms an hour.

But in a fortunate twist of fate, a doctor from the PAH just happened to be sky diving outside Toogoolawah that same day and rushed to Leon's aide, quickly calling an ambulance and notifying emergency services of the need for the rescue helicopter to pick Leon up and take him straight to the PAH.

The accident resulted in several badly broken bones and would see Leon spend two months in the PA Hospital's trauma and rehabilitation units recovering.

Leon Adams with partner of 20 years Anne Milton, who was by Leon's bedside for months as he recovered.

"I just landed really badly. I hit the ground at about 50 to 60 Km's an hour on an angle, on my side, and bounced about eight and a half meters. I broke both femur and tib on both legs, three vertebrae, all my pelvis, and sacrum, just shattered it," he said.
"I hit the ground three times before I stopped. When I was going over, I felt my camera on my helmet dig into the ground, so I was only a couple of inches away from my neck snapping as well, I think.

"But there was a doctor that works at the PA out there, and a nurse from somewhere else who are skydivers, they rushed to me straight away, and got straight onto the ambulance and the rescue helicopter.

"The ambulance got to me first and the helicopter came a bit after, they put me on the helicopter and sent me off to the PA, where they just fixed me up for the first few months in the hospital. They were not even able to roll on my side or anything like that because I was just in massive pain.

"It was great to have medical professionals like that there because they jumped straight on it. They stopped me from moving.

"My femur had been snapped straight in half and it was trying to stick out my leg and all I wanted to do was move. They did what they could to get me more comfortable, and to get me mentally present which stopped me from hurting myself anymore."

Leon said his two-month stay at the PA showed him that if he was ever in any type of medical trouble again, his hospital of choice would be the PAH.

"The experience in the hospital was awesome. The care and the treatment that I got in the PA, especially from the pain specialists, everyone listened to me while I was in hospital there which I really appreciated.

"The PA was just absolutely awesome in the way I got treated by everyone there."

Leon had to undergo a number of surgeries while in PA's trauma ward.

Having had a brush with breast cancer in 2018 at the age of 39, which was beaten by four rounds of chemotherapy, Leon said his decision to become a supporter of the PA Research Foundation is as much to do with the organisation's support of breast cancer research, as it is thank you to the hospital where he received such great care following his accident.

"Anytime I see anything about breast cancer I'm always looking to support it if I can. It's amazing because I've come across so many blokes since my story that have had similar things happen to them that were breast cancer related," he said.

"I consider myself lucky, another bloke that I came across only recently about three or four months ago, had to have big cuts down his side of his nipple the doctors went in there and cut it all out."

"I'm just really glad that PA and the staff there are the ones still going along with my ongoing treatment and that I'm going there for my next surgery on my leg, because the pain thing really gets me now and they take such good care of me.

"My pain threshold has dramatically dropped because I was going through that much pain and the care that I got at the PA hospital, it just made me feel so much more comfortable.

"I know that the surgeons who worked on me did such a good job of fixing me up, for me to even be walking is just unbelievable. I actually can't believe it, I'm lucky I didn't die."

Donate to help the PA Research Foundation fund vital breast cancer research and patient initiatives at the PA Hospital here.

*Edit 02/02/21: The doctor who helped Leon has now been identified as an off-duty QAS member.