A dad-of-two has been warned he may never walk again after he broke his neck diving into a swimming pool – on his best mate’s STAG DO in Benidorm.
Matthew Walters, 33, was on the first full day of the lads’ holiday when he jumped into the 1.2m-deep pool to cool off on July 9 this year.
The unconscious plumbing and heating engineer was pulled out of the water by pals before being rushed to the local hospital.
He was then moved to Alicante where doctors told him he had fractured one of the vertebrae in his neck and dislocated another.
Matthew underwent surgery to fuse the bones together on July 12 but has been warned he might never walk again.
He eventually got a doctor’s note to say he was fit to fly and returned to the UK in a wheelchair on a regular commercial flight last Thursday (21/7).
Yesterday (Mon), Matthew, who lives with his wife Nicola, 30, and their sons Ben, 11, and Callum, seven, in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs., said: “My friend, who is tall, was in the pool and the water was above his chest, so I never thought it wasn’t deep enough.
“I was perfectly sober. I just dived in and took a knock to the head and I floated to the top.
“My head was telling me to get out of the water but I couldn’t do anything with my limbs.
“I went unconscious and when I woke up I was out of the pool.
“My mates thought I was pranking at first but when they realised they pulled me out, put me in the recovery position and I came round.
“I knew how serious it was because I couldn’t feel anything.”
Nursery nurse Nicola was away in Wales with their two children when she got the devastating news.
She added: “When I was told he had broken his neck my whole world fell apart. It was absolutely devastating.
“I flew out there at 6am the following day.
“I was told he would need an operation but the risks were massive and he could be left paralysed from the neck down.”
After returning to the UK, Matthew went straight to the Royal Stoke University Hospital where he was told he should have had six weeks flat bed rest following his injury.
Incredibly, Spanish medics had been sitting him up in a chair and British doctors said the return journey could have damaged his spinal cord.
Matthew is now being transferred to the Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries in Oswestry, Shrops., this week where he will stay for the foreseeable future.
The dad-of-two, who has been told he faces up to a year of rehabilitation, said his “nightmare” experience in the Spanish hospital was “horrific”.
He added: “The care was awful, I felt like I was just a number to them. I felt scared and alone.
“I have got feeling back but it is not proper feeling. I feel like I have been stung by a wasp all over.
“Only time will tell if I’m going to get a complete recovery with proper sensation and whether I will walk again
“I feel devastated but I’m happy to be back with my family and I’ve got to stay positive.
“The support we have had from family and friends has been overwhelming and my boss has been amazing, and we want to thank everyone.”
Matthew was in Benidorm with 13 friends to celebrate groom Ben Forrester’s impending marriage on August 13.
Ben, 26, from Blythe Bridge, Stoke-on-Trent, works with Matthew at Staffordshire Plumbing and Heating and has known him for 10 years.
He said: “I’m absolutely gutted, seeing your friend like that is hard.
“We are like brothers not friends and he would do anything for anyone.
“I’m gutted he won’t be able to come to the wedding, I want him there more than anything.”
Ben and other friends are now planning to do some fundraising to help the couple while Matthew recovers.