Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Balcony fall teenager discharged from hospital

A former Newry student who was paralysed after a fall from a balcony in Spain, has been discharged from hospital after months of treatment, her family have reported.

Niamh McGeoghegan (18) fell from a balcony in Benalmadena while celebrating a friend’s 18th birthday party on St. Patrick’s Day.  She suffered multiple injuries, including three fractures to her skull, swelling on her brain, fractured ribs, a punctured lung and shattered vertebrae, which severed her spinal cord, which resulted in paralysis from the waist down.

Originally from Newry, Niamh moved with her parents Claire and Damien to the Fuengirola area of Spain around four years ago. Her father is a native of Bessbrook and was deeply involved in Carrickcruppen GFC, both as a player and former manager of the senior men’s team.

A fundraising drive set up in the weeks following the accident to help with Niamh’s rehabilitation was widely supported across the district, more than doubling its original target of £4,000 in just days.

Speaking to the Irish News last week, her mother Claire said her daughter is “fighting back” but still has a long way to go in her recovery.

“Niamh was discharged on July 17 and is now under the care of the Costa Del Sol hospital,” Ms McGeoghegan said.  “She has physio three times a week, but we had to apply for rehab for her in Seville, which we are still waiting on. She still needs proper rehab and I imagine initially she will have to stay in Seville.  But she is getting strong day by day, so hopefully this rehab will come soon and we can get the next stage under way.

Niamh McGeoghegan is undergoing extensive rehabilitation treatment after a fall from a balcony left her paralysed.

“Occasionally she can move her toes, the physio says her right leg is stronger than her left and she has strength there, so we need her to be able to get the right treatment so she can build on that progress.”

Mrs McGeoghegan says it’s amazing how far Niamh’s recovery has progressed considering the injuries she suffered but revealed the teenager gets “very down” at times.

“I say [to her] five months ago you were almost dead, but your body is fighting back,” she said. 

“We’ve been told by doctors it takes at least three years for a body to get over a traumatic spinal ordeal that she has went through. Sometimes we notice memory loss, she comes across younger at times, like 13 or 14 rather than an 18-year-old. But compared to how ill she was and the damage to her brain, it’s amazing how far she’s come on.

“But she’s bound to have good days and bad days, but she is determined that she’s going to get better. 

“She’s hoping to do some online courses.  She’d like to do business. I think that would give her something to focus on. It’s been a massive learning curve, especially for Niamh, as she’s had to deal with so much.  But she’s a brave girl and she’s determined. She wants to get better and I know she can do it.”