A dad-of-two who snapped his neck and back in two places in a life-threatening ski injury was hailed a ”walking miracle” as he took his first steps.
Former ski instructor Adam Bailey, 41, was on a lads’ holiday in Alpe d’Huez, France, when he hit a patch of ice on a red run at top speed, resulting in a devastating crash.
He flew 50 feet through air and landed on his head on a stretch of tarmac road, fracturing his first cervical vertebra – an injury that normally results in death.
Adam also broke his eighth thoracic vertebra, his right wrist, two fingers, and the impact crushed his knees into his chest, causing a massive thrombosis in his jugular vein.
An air ambulance rushed him to intensive care in Grenoble but when wife Vicki, 36, arrived the next day with their two sons she was told comatose Adam would probably die.
As well as the blood clot on his jugular he had six or seven haematomas bleeding on the brain – meaning doctors were powerless to administer anti-coagulants.
Instead they performed four hours of open heart surgery on the same day as his accident on January 25, that left him with 41 staples in his chest.
Adam remained in a coma in intensive care in Grenoble for a month until he finally opened his eyes on February 23.
He returned to the UK in an air ambulance on March 10, spent a further three weeks in Watford General Hospital and finally came home to Hemel Hempstead, Herts., on April 13.
Last week Adam, who used to teach at the Hemel Hempstead dry ski slope, took his first steps with the aid of walking sticks and he remembered very little of the horrific accident.
And brave Adam has now pleadged to rebuild his life and take to the slopes once again – so he can teach disabled children to ski.
The roofing firm boss said: ”All I know is that when I landed I got smashed to pieces. It took them an hour and a half just to get me into the air ambulance.
”I am very lucky to be alive, the doctors did a marvellous job on me.
”All my muscles and tendons in my left leg were ripped to pieces from the impact, apparently it was like a bit of glue that had been pulled apart.
”My knees went up into my chest and butted my chests to bits. I’ve now got a foot-long scar on my chest where they opened me up to get to my ribs and heart.
”The physios have been very surprised by how quickly i am getting on. Hopefully I will just get stronger and stronger.”
Adam still suffers from neurological pain and muscle weakness and it could take two years for his brain to recover completely.
But wife Vicki, 36, and sons Dylan, 16, and Ottis, 13, said every day was a blessing as Adam got steadily better.
Vicki, a part-time optician, said medical staff were ”astounded” by Adam’s rapid progress.
She said: ”His recovery has been phenomenal. We did not think he would be able to speak again, let alone walk.
”It looks like where the piste basher cleared the snow Adam hit some ice and came out of his skis.
”He had a helmet on but broke the first cervical vertebra which supports the skull.
”Normally people die instantly when that happens. The doctors told me to tell the children their dad was probably going to die.
”I asked about spinal damage but it was more a case of whether his brain would allow him to walk again.
”We were very worried he would be left in a permanent vegetative state and up until two weeks ago he was in a wheelchair.
”This is so much more than we ever hoped for.”