June 29, 2019 is a date she will never forget. That day, Dana Barrett goes to a party organized at the house of her boyfriend, Seamus Cantwell. After winning a game of mini-golf, she decides to celebrate her victory by jumping into the pool. But this one is shallow. “I hit my head and heard my neck crack, then nothing. I came to the surface and couldn’t move – but I could hear the people around me,” she told AFP. SWNS in a testimony relayed by the New York Post. At the time, her friends thought she was joking but soon realized the situation. Her boyfriend gives her CPR while she passes out from lack of oxygen.
Airlifted to Stony Brook University Medical Center in New York, Dana is put into an induced coma. She wakes up two days later: “At first, I thought I was having a nightmare. I tried to lift my head but I felt like I was being slammed very hard.” The doctors give him tragic news. Her accident left her quadriplegic. A terrible diagnosis for this hyperactive who practiced multiple sports since her early childhood. After two months, she was transferred to a convalescent center where she began physiotherapy. For 60 days, she relearns to speak, eat, drink and move her head. She is also getting used to using an electric wheelchair.
Relearning to live as a quadriplegic
Sent to a nursing home, Dana contracts pneumonia that forces her to stay in the hospital longer. The Covid-19 pandemic does not help and even prevents him from receiving visits. The young woman is depressed. But hope is reborn when she enters a non-profit shelter. The 30-year-old finds a certain form of freedom there and makes progress. Now she is no longer dependent on a ventilator to breathe. She uses a tracheostomy tube and a diaphragmatic pacemaker. “It was a return to normal,” she admits. The New Yorker is gaining weight and making her first outings outside. She ends up raising enough money to build a fully equipped house and moves in there in November 2020.
His new fight? Raising awareness
“People don’t realize the lack of independence that comes with being a quadriplegic. I’m on battery power now, so if something goes wrong, I can’t breathe, move or talk,” Dana said. The young woman is however grateful to be still alive: “I can still eat, drink and speak. I have my house, my family and my friends.” The 30-year-old now wants to send an important message: “I want to remind people of how dangerous diving can be – so make sure you’re careful. I’ve dived in this pool a million times before but it’s easy to misjudge things.”