The British party girl, 30, who fell 100ft from a balcony and miraculously survivedAbigail Barragry fell from the balcony of her apt in Kuala Lumpur while partying on New Year's eveShe broke virtually every bone in her body but survivedSpent four months in hospital and underwent 13 operationsInsists accident helped her meet Mr Right and changed her life for the better
22:36 GMT, 8 July 2012
When pretty Abigail Barragry plummeted 100ft from a balcony, doctors didn’t expect her to survive.
30, faced death after breaking virtually every bone in her body after
falling eight floors from the apartment in Malaysia.
And medics warned
her devastated family that even if miraculously she pulled through, she
might never walk.
today – following four months in hospital and 13 operations, Abigail,
from Sheffield, says the terrifying incident has changed her life for
She admits 'Before I had my fall, I was a perfectionist over my looks. I spent hours choosing exactly the right clothes, getting ready to go out and exercised five days a week in the gym.'
Abigail fell from the top floor of this tower block in Kuala Lumpur
And incredibly, she credits the
accident – which she believes was a twist of fate – for meeting the love
of her life, surveyor James Coupe, 30.
I had my fall, I was a perfectionist over my looks,' says Abigail who
now manages to limp with a stick, 'I spent hours choosing exactly the
right clothes, getting ready to go out and exercised five days a week in
inside my body I have four plates, a screw and a foot long metal rod. I
have scars all over my body and will never be physically able as I used
to be. But having my fall has put my life in perspective and incredibly
I have never been happier in myself.
'I feel so lucky to be alive. If I
hadn’t had this freak accident, James and I never would have met. We
never stop making one another smile and every day I feel lucky to be
Abigail’s life was
turned upside down on New Year’s Day 2011.
The psychology graduate was
working as an arts therapist with children with special needs at a
centre in Kualar Lumpar, Malaysia.
recalls: “It was 2am in the morning and I’d been partying, seeing in
the New Year with a few drinks with friends. I felt dizzy and ran out of
the apartment onto the balcony.
I wanted was some fresh air but as I reached the balcony, I slipped in
my heels and the next thing I knew I found myself hanging over the
balcony, my hands gripping the rail. Even now I don’t know exactly how I
For a terrifying few seconds, she felt the world had stopped.
Abigail slipped over the railing of her balcony at 2am on New Year's Day last year
She broke virtually every bone in her body and spent four months in hospital undergoing 13 operations
Miss Barragry has been left with four plates, a screw and a foot long metal rod in her body
seemed to happen in slow motion,' she says, 'I remember looking up at
my hands and feeling sheer fleeting panic as I realised they were
gripping the balcony but my body was hanging over the edge.
'Then I saw my hands slipping, It was as if they were not my hands and I realised I was going to fall.
later discovered I’d fallen through two canopies and a satellite dish
on the way down. The next thing I remember is waking up on the ground in
the grass. I was lying on my back and passers by were standing over me.
'I couldn’t seem to see their faces.
But the last thing I recall is saying to them that my legs hurt before I
was engulfed with pain and passed out.'
came round as she was being wheeled into hospital. 'The pain was
overwhelming, just indescribable. A friend was at my side and I was
begging him not to leave me. I truly felt I was going to die.'
fact, Abigail’s condition was so critical that it took surgeons ten
hours in the operating theatre to stabilise her condition.
When pretty Abigail Barragry plummeted 100ft from a balcony, doctors didnt expect her to survive
Because she didnt have health insurance, her dad Antony, 60, a business director, shelled out 40,000 savings to pay for treatment.
beloved black satin evening dress was cut off me. I had so many life
threatening injuries that it’s a miracle my body didn’t just go into
shock,' she says, 'My pelvis was cracked in two places, my broken jaw
was wired, my right wrist was crushed and doctors believed they might
have to amputate my right leg. I was in the worse pain I imagined could
The next two weeks passed as a blur
as Abigail fought for her life in intensive care.
Days and nights
rolled into one as she lapsed in an out of a coma. Because she didn’t
have health insurance, her dad
60, a business director, shelled out 40,000 savings to pay for
treatment. Meanwhile mum Pamela, 65, a secretary got on the first flight
available to be with her daughter.
Miss Barragry fell through two canopies and a satellite dish during her 100ft fall
Abigail whose parents are divorced but who both spent days and nights
by their daughter's bedside, 'It was the first time I’d seen my dad cry.
I went from living and working my dream to fighting for my life.
'Lying in my hospital bed unable to even lift a glass or wipe my own face I wondered if I had actually died and this was hell.'
was to come when doctors explained she could lose her right leg and she
would probably spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair.
on a grass area had saved my life,” she explains, “but the bone in my
right leg had shattered on impact and dirt had got into it causing a
nasty infection. It meant whole sections of the bone had to be removed
and my leg held together in a metal case to try to hold it together.'
four months in the Malaysian hospital she was finally discharged in a
wheelchair but decided to come home to the UK with her mum.
needed so much help. I’d lost over over a stone in weight and was so
frail. At the same time, I needed further treatment and it seemed
easiest to get it in the UK.'
Against all the odds Abigail’s leg was saved. But her legs were so badly damaged she could only get around in a wheelchair.
was a terrible time,' she says, 'when I had my fall I’d been seeing
someone but although he was very supportive at the time, what happened
pushed us apart and we finished. I remember thinking that no-one would
want me – someone who is so scarred and in constant pain.'
But despite this, she didn’t give up.
was determined to get better. I told myself I still had all my limbs
and I would walk again. I read book after book on pain management and
underwent intense physiotherapy. Doctors said my wrist was so badly
injured I would never write again but I forced myself to use a
Her determination paid off and gradually Abigail was able to haul herself out of a wheelchair and walk using crutches.
Abigail met surveyor James Coupe 11 months after her accident, after a mutual friend introduced them
And in November 2011 – after being persuaded to go to a local pub for a drink – she met James. 'A mutual friend introduced us and I thought he was gorgeous. We clicked straightway.'
After talking online for a few days, she was thrilled when James asked her out for a drink.
'I felt incredibly nervous,” she admits, “but he never saw me as the ‘patient’ only as the positive person I still am. I did wonder if he’d be put off by my terrible scars but he simply doesn’t seem to see them.
'We never stop making each other smile and laugh – he’s my soulmate.'
Although she faces further surgery to her leg, she believes her near death experience has had a positive effect on her life. 'If you’d told me I’d be happy with all these scars I’d never have believed it,' she says, 'Of course what happened was terrible. But I’ve found joy in the smallest achievements and a new appreciation of how fantastic it is to be alive.
'I am thrilled I can now wash my own hair and make a cup of tea. I am so fortunate I still have my brain in tact and can use that to do anything I want. No I can’t have the life I once had but I can have a more fulfilling one with all that I have learned.
'I’ve been to hell and back but this has made me stronger because I know nothing can ever be as bad or bring me down.'
Abigail now intends to go back to work and hopes one day to return to Malaysia. She says: “Before this ripped my life apart I was about to do more studying in counselling and psychology. What’s happened has fuelled my ambition to continue with this to help others. I want to create something really positive from this nightmare.'
She hopes telling her story will make others aware of the dangers balconies abroad pose – often they are built much lower than regulations allow in the UK. Last year alone more than a dozen Brits fell from hotel balconies abroad.
Meanwhile she is about to go on her first holiday with James to Spain. “I never thought I’d ever be well enough to go anywhere let alone go somewhere without a wheelchair. But recently after 16 gruelling months I finally had my metal case taken of my leg and now I can’t wait to swim in a pool.”
She is excited about the future.
'Even the best laid plans can’t stop freak accidents,' she says, 'I will never be the same again but I’m not going to let what happened stop me from doing anything.
'But it wasn’t my fate to die and it’s knowing that which has spurred me on to make the most of living.'