Anna Parsons is recovering in hospital after breaking almost every bone in her body. Photo / Provided
Family members of a 21-year-old University of Otago student who fell 12m while rock climbing in the US this week say counting bones is easier than it did not break in the accident.
Anna Parsons, formerly of Invercargill, was climbing Runout Slab at Snake Dike in Yosemite National Park when she slipped and rolled down a steep incline, hitting a ledge on the way down.
Her sister, Jessica Ennor, said the fall shattered nearly every bone in her body, including her neck, spine, pelvis, ribs, wrist, feet and toes, and left her in pain. internal injuries, including a punctured lung.
Her left foot was so badly damaged it had to be amputated and yesterday she underwent major reconstructive surgery on her right foot, she said.
“The only things that weren’t broken were his arms, femurs and head, which is amazing.
“It was a tough decision to take her foot off, but it’s the best way for her to get back to doing the things she loves.
“He is a very fun, family-oriented, outgoing, hard-working and studious individual with a passion for environmental issues.
“She loves surfing, climbing, mountain biking, tramping, it’s her lifestyle.”
Parsons is a third-year marine ecology student from the University of Otago who recently won a scholarship to spend time studying at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Center in British Columbia, Canada.
Ennor said his sister went to North America early so she could go rock climbing before she started school.
“She’s been climbing for a few years, but I wouldn’t say she was experienced.
“Runout Slab was meant to be an easy climb.”
His parents flew in immediately after the accident to be at his bedside.
Parsons said in a social media post that she was grateful for the quick and efficient rescue team that got her off the mountainside and straight to hospital by helicopter.
Because the hospital immediately began working on her back, she was not crippled by her spinal injuries.
“Doctors say she will be able to walk,” Ennor said.
“We weren’t sure for a few days, but now she can move her knees and wiggle her toes.
“So once that reconstructive surgery has healed, she will have to learn to walk again with a prosthesis.”
She said her sister was “very overwhelmed with emotion” at how lucky she was to be “alive, saved and spared”.
“She is also very restless, sometimes the pain is too much.
“We know it’s going to be a long trip, but she’s been incredibly positive and she’s already talking about being an amazing marine scientist with one leg, hiking in the mountains, testing seaweed.”
Ennor said it was still too early to say when his sister might come home.
“I don’t think we should rush.”
Unfortunately, her travel insurance only covered part of the cost of her surgery and hospital care.
“Money is something we don’t like to worry about, but Anna’s medical bills are over $1 million.”
So her family set up a Givealittle page to pay for prosthetics, treatment and rehabilitation.
Approximately $50,000 has been raised to date, but the goal is to reach $500,000.