A Glenarm native who was stuck in a New York hospital for 73 days and feared she would lose her legs has returned home.
Leanne Montgomery, who now lives in Ballycarry, received treatment at the Roosevelt Hospital in New York after being struck down with compartment syndrome and documented her experience in her blog “leglessinnyc.com.”
When she was initially admitted, doctors feared they would have to amputate the fitness instructor’s legs due to the condition.
However, after undergoing operations and treatment with revolutionary skin material Integra, she was cleared to fly home last Thursday.
“It was a nice surprise,” Leanne told the Times.
“They had told us at the start of the week that I might get home but we didn’t want to say to anyone because of the infection I got after the last operation, and also because the operation on my right leg with the Integra was such a big operation they weren’t sure if it would take properly. “We didn’t want to raise hopes incase it didn’t happen.
“When they said I could go home I felt absolutely over the moon. I hadn’t been allowed out of the hospital at all for 73 days. There was nothing like knowing I would be coming home to family and friends.”
Leanne and her Dad Stephen, who was at his daughter’s side throughout her ordeal, flew into Belfast International Airport on July 11.
“It was amazing touching down,” she recalled.
“My brother Gary and boyfriend David were there to welcome me, while the rest of my family and friends were waiting back at the house.
“There was a welcome party with champagne but I’m on medication so it has literally been put on ice!”
Leanne is still on the road to recovery, and is receiving physiotherapy to help her walk again.
“They don’t know how long it will take for me to fully recover,” she revealed.
“It could take six months to a year until I’m doing normal things and I won’t be running a marathon! I want to get back to being a fitness instructor.”
Speaking from her Ballycarry home, Leanne paid tribute to the fundraisers who raised over £5,000 to enable members of her family to fly out to New York to comfort her during her illness.
A bake sale by Glenarm Village Committee in Glenarm Baptist Church, together with donations on the day, raised a remarkable £2,365.
Meanwhile, a You Caring page set up by Leanne’s friend Dee Moorhead raised £3,043
“The fundraising to fly my family out to me was an absolute godsend,” she recalled.
“My son Callum, partner David and my two brothers were able to come out and see me, which meant so much.
“I want to thank them and tell them how grateful I am, I can’t put into words how much I appreciate them as their actions made a very horrible situation slightly more bearable, and they completely restored my faith in humanity.”
Leanne says that the local support has continued since she returned home.
“The amount of wellwishes has been really overwhelming, I feel very humbled,” she said.
While she is currently focusing on her own recovery, Leanne says she hopes to give something back after her experience.
“There are a couple of charities already in America which help people from Ireland or Northern Ireland, and it would be my long-term goal to help them or to help raise awareness of compartment syndrome and how to recognise it,” she revealed.