A TEENAGER who caught her jaw after horror horse riding crash has admitted she was terrified at catching her own reflection.
Emily Eccles’s chin and jawbone was left hanging by a 1cm thread of skin after the smash near Baslow, in Derbyshire, eight weeks ago.
The 15-year-old had been out riding with a friend and her family when her horse was spooked by an exhaust popping on a car and crashed into a gatepost.
Emily was taken to Sheffield Children’s Hospital after finding herself on the floor, holding what remained of the bottom of her face in her own hands.
It took surgeons five-and-a-half hours to rebuild her face using titanium plates and 160 stitches.
Recalling the terrifying smash, Emily told BBC Breakfast: “For five days I avoided looking in the mirror.
“I didn’t want to look at my phone screen and I was trying to avoid swiping across to the camera. Until I knew I was better I didn’t want to see how it looked.”
For five days I avoided looking in the mirror
But the operation, carried out by consultant facial reconstructive surgeon Ricardo Mohammed-Ali and his team, was such a success that the teenager was back at school for the start of term, just a month after the accident.
Now, two months on, Emily is seeing her scars fade by the day and hoping to persuade her parents to let her ride again.
“I’d like to ride a horse again, definitely,” she said.
Mr Mohammad-Ali told the programme: “It’s remarkable, the recovery that Emily has made.
“On the third of October it was two months and the swelling has gone down, the jaw is functioning, she’s back to eating and drinking as normal.
“She wants to go skiing but I’ve told her four months before she can go skiing – she’s trying to push it to three months.”
Speaking about her recovery, Emily said: “It feels weird, I can’t feel my bottom lip properly – it’s got pins and needles because of the nerve damage but other than that it’s become normal now.”
Doctors said she had suffered one of the worst facial injuries they had seen outside a warzone after the smash in August.
Emily said the horse galloped along a country path but, after her feet came out of the stirrups and she fell to one side, her head hit a wooden post.
She remembers catching something red which flashed in front of her face as she fell.
“I just looked down and I was like, ‘I don’t know what that is’,” she said.
She said that, once in the ambulance: “I just looked down and I could see teeth and bone and I said, ‘is that my jaw?’.”
I just looked down and I could see teeth and bone and I said, ‘is that my jaw?’
Mum Michelle Eccles said she was driving with her husband Chris, when she got the call to say her daughter had been in an accident.
The 50-year-old, said the caller was in so much shock after what had happened to her daughter Emily “I actually thought she’d died.”
She said the couple rushed to Sheffield Children’s Hospital where a nurse warned her to prepare herself before entering the room where Emily was being treated.
Teacher Mrs Eccles said: “I took a few deep breaths and then she guided me into the room.
“I think some sort of coping mechanism came over me.
“It’s your daughter there in a critical condition and looking very poorly and quite gruesome as well.
“But her eyes were still the same so I just thought, ‘just focus on her eyes’.
“I gave her a kiss on her forehead and kept saying ‘it’s going to be all right’.”
She said: “Luckily, Emily’s sense of humour never stopped.”
I couldn’t believe there was just this one scar and everything, although still swollen, was back in the right place
And this was reinforced when her husband chipped in with: “Em, you don’t do anything by halves”, prompting a mock exasperated response from their daughter.
Mrs Eccles described how she stayed as Emily was treated at the hospital for 11 days following the emergency surgery by consultant facial reconstructive surgeon Ricardo Mohammed-Ali.
She said she could not believe the rapid recovery following Mr Mohammed-Ali’s work.
“After six days the bandages came off,” Mrs Eccles said. “That was just miraculous.
“I couldn’t believe there was just this one scar and everything, although still swollen, was back in the right place.
“It just is miraculous what he had done.”
She said: “Being able to come home after such a horrific accident, 11 days on, is just testament to him and all the other professionals.
“We’ve tried to thank him and he’s such an unassuming guy.
“He just smiles quietly and says ‘I was just doing my job’.
“But my husband and I say ‘you’re job is just so amazing that you could bring her back’.”
Mr and Mrs Eccles said they have visited the gate on a Derbyshire lane where Emily had her accident and there is a metal spike just next to the point of impact.
They said they have realised it could have been even worse.
Mrs Eccles said: “I’ve tired to block that from our minds.
“Mr Mohammed-Ali said that a centimetre either way would have been catastrophic.”
The family has already started to raise money for the Children’s Hospital Charity’s appeal for a helipad in Sheffield and also for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.
They have held a garden party at their home near Sheffield and set up an online appeal page to help raise funds.