Instant regret and then darkness.
Tominey Reid barely remembers the few terrifying seconds she fell through the air from a seven-story balcony after slipping while reaching for her phone.
The fact that the 21-year-old Melbourne hairdresser was alive to tell this story is: Your doctors agreenothing short of a “miracle”.
Falls from a height of seven stories, about 21 meters, have a fatality rate of over 90 percent.
Despite suffering a series of gruesome injuries – including a broken femur, broken kneecap, torn ligaments and multiple brain bleeds – Tominey somehow survived without being permanently paralyzed or suffering brain damage.
Now she’s speaking out for the first time about the terrible accident – and her determination to prove the doctors wrong by walking again.
“It was terrible, I regretted it straight away,” Tominey told Daily Mail Australia, her voice catching on the memory.
“I don’t remember the fall, but I do remember slipping and it…my heart just dropped.”
21-year-old Tominey Reid was trying to retrieve her dropped phone when she fell 21 meters from the seventh-floor balcony of her boyfriend’s inner-city Melbourne apartment in the early hours of Saturday July 29 (pictured).
Tominey suffered a series of gruesome injuries, including a broken femur, a broken kneecap, torn ligaments and multiple brain bleeds, but was very lucky not to be permanently paralyzed or suffer brain damage.
Tominey was sitting on the balcony of the seventh-floor apartment she shares with her boyfriend Kyle in inner-city Melbourne just after midnight on July 29.
The couple were on Facetime – Kyle had left for an overseas holiday the day before – when Tominey accidentally dropped her phone on the downstairs balcony.
“I went down and knocked on their door, but they didn’t answer,” Tominey said.
“I could see my phone on the sixth floor balcony. ‘I could see the light and thought I could reach her balcony from our balcony.’
Tominey hadn’t been drinking: it was, she says, a “freak accident” caused by a “stupid” decision that she will regret for the rest of her life.
A retired police officer who lived in the same building heard the sickening effect of her fall and immediately called emergency services.
Tominey had landed partially on a glass fence, shattering it, which may have broken her fall.
Her right femur, the strongest bone in the human body, was broken in half and protruded from the back of her thigh.
“I broke my sciatic nerve in the same leg, which is why I’m currently in a wheelchair,” Tominey said.
“I shattered my left kneecap, tore my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), medial collateral ligament (MCL) and other ligaments and broke my tibia.
“I had multiple brain bleeds, a ruptured heart and a fracture of my spine from neck to chest.”
But she wouldn’t find out about that until later.
The balcony from which Tominey slipped and fell while trying to retrieve her phone. For falls from seven floors – around 21 meters – the survival rate is only ten percent
Tominey faces a long road to recovery and is determined to prove the doctors who said she could never walk wrong again
Tominey’s mother Sarah (pictured left) quit her job as a hairdresser and moved from Phillip Island to Melbourne to look after her daughter full-time
Doctors at Alfred Hospital placed her in an induced coma in intensive care for four days, fearing they would have to drill a hole in her head to stop the swelling in her brain.
“I had about six surgeries before I even woke up and I lost 11 liters of blood,” Tominey said.
Her next real memory was waking up in intensive care and seeing various family members by her side, some of whom had flown in from Townsville.
“Everyone called it a miracle that I survived because the survival rate from seven stories was 10 percent and I survived without being paralyzed or even brain damaged,” Tominey said.
Well-wishers have donated nearly $55,000 GoFundMe page started by Tominey’s aunt to ease the financial burden of not being able to work for the foreseeable future.
After a week in intensive care, Tominey was transferred to a neurotrauma unit where specialists reconstructed her knee.
They also harvested nerves from her left leg to repair the damaged sciatic nerve in her right leg.
In total, Tominey underwent around ten operations.
After spending five weeks in hospital, Tominey was presented with a 16-page discharge summary on Friday, September 1, and joined friends and family at a local pub on Saturday for a special gathering to celebrate her 21st birthday (in the picture).
“I have no feeling or movement beyond my knee and it can take up to four years for the sciatic nerve to grow back,” she said.
Despite the intense agony of her injuries, Tominey hid the extent of her pain to persuade doctors and nurses to discharge her before her 21st birthday.
Her plan worked: After spending five weeks in hospital, she received a 16-page discharge summary on September 1 and met up with friends and family at a local pub on Saturday.
“It was really emotional,” she said. “My father gave a speech and so did my father.”
The support of her family and friends was crucial: her mother Sarah quit her job as a hairdresser and moved from Phillip Island to Melbourne to look after her full-time.
Nurses come in every weekday to provide occupational therapy and rehabilitation.
“Now it’s a waiting game, waiting for my nerves to grow and a lot of rehab,” Tominey said.
But just before speaking to Daily Mail Australia, Tominey received devastating news.
“The doctor told me there was a good chance I would never be able to walk again and it could take three to four years for my nerves to grow,” she said.
“It’s heartbreaking.” I was really upset about this one day.
‘But I thought about it a bit and am determined to prove this doctor wrong. “I have defied all odds so far and therefore believe that there is a good chance that I will be able to run again in the future.”
Despite her grit and determination, Tominey admits that “some days are really good and other days are really, really bad.”
“It was actually worse being in a wheelchair at home than in the hospital because it felt much more real,” she added.
“I need full-time care.” Always someone with me. I can’t go to the toilet alone. I can’t shower. I have to take a sponge bath on a dresser that is basically a waterproof wheelchair.
“It’s terrible and very humiliating that you can’t have your independence.” “I used to be very independent, walk to work and very social.”
The impact of Tominey’s fall was so violent that it broke her right femur – the strongest bone in the human body – and left a tear in her heart
Tominey wanted to complete her hairdressing apprenticeship next June and dreamed of eventually opening her own salon.
But she’s slowly coming to terms with the fact that the long hours she’ll have to put in in her chosen career may not be possible.
“The doctor said even if I could walk again, I would have severe leg pain and have a pretty bad limp,” she said.
Tominey’s only message to other young people is to “be happy with what you have” and value your health.
“I used to hate my legs. “I used to think I looked better in pants and would rarely wear shorts or a skirt,” she said.
“Now my legs are all messed up. I literally have scars everywhere and I have a rod in my leg where they repaired my femur.”
To donate to their fundraiser, click Here.