Tominey Reid, 21, fell seven storeys from her Melbourne balcony. Doctors say it was ‘a miracle’ she survived. Here is her harrowing story… and the valuable life lesson for everyone
Instant regret, and then darkness.
Tominey Reid remembers little of the few horrifying seconds when she fell through the air from a seven-storey balcony after she slipped while reaching for her phone.
The fact the 21-year-old Melbourne hairdresser lived to tell the tale is, her doctors agree, nothing short of a ‘miracle’.
Falls from a height of seven stories, roughly 21 metres, have a fatality rate of more than 90 per cent.
Although she suffered a gruesome list of injuries – including a snapped femur, shattered knee cap, torn ligaments and multiple brain bleeds – Tominey somehow survived without being permanently paralysed or suffering brain damage.
Now, for the first time, she has opened up about the terrible accident – and her determination to prove doctors wrong by walking again.
‘It was horrible, I immediately regretted it,’ Tominey told Daily Mail Australia, her voice catching at the memory.
‘I don’t remember the fall but I do remember slipping and it just… my heart just dropped.’
Tominey Reid, 21, was trying to retrieve her dropped phone when she fell 21 metres from the seventh-floor balcony of her boyfriend’s inner-city Melbourne flat in the early hours of Saturday July, 29 (pictured)
Tominey suffered a gruesome list of injuries, including a snapped femur, shattered knee cap, torn ligaments and multiple brain bleeds but was extremely fortunate to avoid being permanently paralysed or suffering brain damage.
Tominey was sitting on the balcony of the seventh-floor flat she shares with her boyfriend, Kyle, in inner-city Melbourne shortly after midnight on July 29.
The couple were on Facetime – Kyle had left the day before for an overseas holiday – when Tominey accidentally dropped her phone onto the downstairs balcony.
‘I went down and knocked on their door, but they didn’t answer,’ Tominey said.
‘I could see my phone on the sixth floor balcony. I could see the light of it and I thought that I was able to reach their balcony from our balcony.’
Tominey had not been drinking: it was, she says, a ‘freak accident’ sparked by a ‘silly’ decision she will regret for the rest of her life.
The sickening impact of her fall was heard by a retired policeman living in the same building, who immediately rang emergency services.
Tominey had partially landed on a glass fence – shattering it in the process – which may have broken her fall.
Her right femur, the strongest bone in the human body, had snapped in half and was sticking out the back of her thigh.
‘I broke the sciatic nerve in the same leg, which is why I’m currently in a wheelchair,’ Tominey said.
‘I shattered my left knee cap, tore my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), my MCL (medial collateral ligament), other ligaments and broke my tibia.
‘I had multiple brain bleeds, a tear in my heart and had ruptured my spine from neck to thorax.’
But she would only learn of this later.
The balcony where Tominey slipped and fell from while attempting to retrieve her phone. Falls from seven storeys – roughly 21 metres – have a survival rate of just ten per cent
Tominey faces a long road to recovery, determined to prove the doctors who claimed she may never walk again wrong
Tominey’s mother, Sarah (pictured, left) has quit her hairdressing job and moved to Melbourne from Phillip Island to look after her daughter full-time
Doctors at The Alfred Hospital placed her in an induced coma in intensive care for four days, fearing they would have to drill a hole in her head to stop the swelling on her brain.
‘I had about six surgeries before I had even woken up and I lost 11 litres of blood,’ Tominey said.
Her next real memory was waking up in intensive care to see various family members by her side, some of whom had flown down from Townsville.
‘Everyone was calling it a miracle that I had survived because it’s 10 per cent survival rate from seven stories and I survived without being paralysed or even brain damaged,’ Tominey said.
Well-wishers have donated almost $55,000 to a GoFundMe page set up by Tominey’s aunt to help alleviate the financial burden of being unable to work for the foreseeable future.
After a week in intensive care, Tominey was moved to a neuro-trauma ward where specialists reconstructed her knee.
They also took nerves from her left leg to help repair the damaged sciatic nerve in her right leg.
In all, Tominey underwent around ten surgeries.
After spending five weeks in hospital, Tominey was handed a discharge summary 16 pages long on Friday September 1 and had a special gathering at a local pub on the Saturday with friends and family to celebrate her 21st birthday (pictured)
‘I’ve got no feeling or movement past my knee and it can take up to four years for the sciatic nerve to grow back,’ she said.
Despite the intense agony from her injuries, Tominey masked the extent of her pain in a bid to convince doctors and nurses to discharge her before her 21st birthday.
Her plan worked: after spending five weeks in hospital, she was handed a discharge summary 16 pages long on September 1 and had a special gathering at a local pub on the Saturday with friends and family.
‘It was really emotional,’ she said. ‘My pop did a speech and so did my dad.’
The support of her family and friends has been crucial: her mother, Sarah, quit her hairdressing job and has moved to Melbourne from Phillip Island to look after her full-time.
Nurses come in each weekday to give occupational therapy and rehab.
‘Now it’s a waiting game of waiting for my nerve to grow and lots of rehab,’ Tominey said.
But shortly before she spoke to Daily Mail Australia, Tominey was given some devastating news.
‘The doctor said to me there’s a big chance that I won’t ever be able to walk again and it could take three to four years for my nerve to grow,’ she said.
‘It’s heartbreaking. I was really upset for that one day.
‘But I’ve had a bit of a think about it and I am determined to prove that doctor wrong. I’ve defied all the odds so far so I’d like to think there’s a big chance that I could possibly walk again in the future.’
Despite her resolve and determination, Tominey acknowledges that ‘some days are really good and other days are really, really low’.
‘It’s actually been worse being in a wheelchair at home than it was in the hospital because it’s sort of feels a lot more real,’ she added.
‘I have to have full time care. Someone with me all the time. I can’t go to the toilet by myself. I can’t shower. I have to have a sponge bath on a commode, a which is a waterproof wheelchair basically.
‘It’s horrible and it’s very degrading not being able to have your independence. I used to be really independent and walk to work and very social.’
The impact of Tominey’s fall was so severe it snapped her right femur – the strongest bone in the human body – and left a tear in her heart
Tominey was hoping to complete her hairdressing apprenticeship next June and had dreams of eventually opening up her own salon.
But she is slowly coming to terms with the fact the long hours on her feet in her chosen career may not be possible.
‘The doctor said even if I could walk again, I’m going to have a lot of leg pain and a pretty bad limp,’ she said.
Tominey’s one message to other young people is to ‘be happy with what you have’ and appreciate your health.
‘I used to hate my legs. I used to think I looked nicer in pants and would rarely wear shorts or a skirt,’ she said.
‘Now my legs are all busted up. I have scars literally all over them and I’ve got a rod in my leg where they repaired my femur.’
To donate to her fundraiser, click here.