WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTOS BELOW
A newlywed’s dream celebration nearly ended in tragedy when a stray firework allegedly sent a flaming coconut into her leg, breaking her bones and setting off a nightmare sequence of medical complications that nearly cost her a limb.
Natalie Fitzpatrick, who had wed husband Paul in a 2012 beach ceremony in Koh Chang, Thailand, said the pair were watching a fireworks display with her 4-year-old daughter when one shot went off into the crowd.
“It all happened so fast,” the 42-year-old of Devon, England, told SWNS. “The next thing I know, people are trying to pat out flames as my dress caught alight and my leg is in agony. I really thought I was going to die or that I’d lose my leg.”
The impact reportedly broke Fitzpatrick’s tibia and fibula, and she was loaded into the back of a pick-up truck and rushed to an emergency room, which then transferred her to a hospital in Phuket. Fitzpatrick told the news outlet that her first surgery involved inserting pins into her leg to fix the broken bone, but that she had developed complications with her skin.
“Where the coconut had hit my leg, the impact had caused the skin to corrode and die,” she told SWNS. “It was just getting blacker and blacker. Every other day I had to go to theatre [surgery] and they put me to sleep while they cut away at the skin — it was debriding.”
Fitzpatrick said she was hospitalized for two weeks, and alleges that she did not have access to a translator or proper follow-up care. She said that once she was flown back to the U.K. on an insurance-approved flight, she underwent several surgeries to correct the initial work.
“Although the bones were mending, I had a hole in my leg where they had cut away the skin,” she told SNWS of her initial care. “You could see right to the metal work in my leg.”
She said the surgeon in the U.K. used muscle from another area of her leg to mend the gap in her limb, but that she was warned about the potential for rejection and need for amputation. She said that soon after that operation, they discovered she had an infection from a bacteria found in water that was preventing her healing, and that she also found out she was pregnant.
“I had to worry of not only being pregnant but also potentially having my leg chopped off,” she told SWNS. “A week before I had Orla, my second child, now 4, in March 2014, I had the bars and cage removed from my leg.”
While Fitzpatrick lost two years of work and said that she’s still dealing with lingering effects from the ordeal, she is thankful that the coconut hit her leg, and not either her head or her daughter.
“It’s not all doom and gloom, I’ve come out stronger,” she told SWNS.