Max can clearly remember the day that changed his life. In 2009, aged 17, he was playing rugby at school when he was pulled down awkwardly on the last play, snapping his neck. As soon as he hit the floor, he knew what had happened. It was like the lights had been switched off from the chest down - no pain, just nothingness. Fear struck and his main memory was crying and calling for his mother.
Thankfully the medical support that day was fantastic. A nurse ran straight onto the pitch and didn’t allow Max to move, before an ambulance took him to Derriford hospital in Plymouth. Their actions that day most likely saved his life.
Much of the next month he was sedated on a ventilator in the intensive care unit. He developed pneumonia due to weakened lungs, and it was touch and go as to his survival. This was to repeat itself a few months later. Fortunately, both times he survived and spent the next 9 months undergoing rehab in the Salisbury spinal injury unit.
Since then, he has gone on to achieve a lot. He immediately returned to school to complete his A levels, followed by attaining first class honours and a masters in Economics at UEA. These qualifications allowed him to pursue a career working as an economist for the DWP while living in London with his long term girlfriend. The effects of the pandemic, however, resulted in him spending a considerable portion of the past year at his family home in Cornwall.
Since the accident, he has done lots of travelling, visiting Ethiopia, Uganda, Andorra, France, Fuerteventura and even spent 6 weeks driving around the USA. His family's military background means travelling is something he has grown up with and is an important and stabilising part of his life. He is now planning a trip to drive an all-terrain vehicle through Africa.
Max remains an avid rugby and sports fan in general, regularly attending live fixtures (where most of his earnings go). Working within the sports sector as an economist is a great aspiration of his and something he continues to work towards. During the pandemic he has connected with other injured rugby players to form a support group and they are looking forward to regular meet-ups and trips in the future.
While Max's injury drastically changed the course of his life, he says it helped him mature into a person that he otherwise might not have become. That said, he believes there are still many complications with spinal cord injury that need serious attention, such as restoring function to bladder and bowel. Research into these areas would have a massive impact on the quality of life for those in the SCI community, as these remain an ongoing struggle for many.