A third-year Politics and Economics student has been left paralysed after a POLIS (Politics and International Studies) society rugby match.
20-year-old Daniel Cowley broke his neck in the accident, which took place on the Bodington sports pitches at around 4pm on November 4.
Daniel told Leeds Student that the experience was “terrifying”.
His injuries include paralysis in both legs and loss of movement in his right arm above the elbow. Although Daniel has retained the movement in his left arm, he has no feeling in his fingers on that arm.
His family told this paper: “It was a huge shock to all of us but Dan has made it much easier by remaining calm and positive, and Dan’s friends and hospital staff have been hugely supportive”.
The injury occurred towards the end of a match against Leeds University Business Society (LUBS). During a ruck, Mr Cowley landed in a vulnerable position. He told Leeds Student that he realised immediately that something was severely wrong. The student remembers hearing the sound of his neck breaking, as do other members of the team.
Having lost all feeling below his neck, Daniel lay paralysed on the ground and an ambulance was called immediately. He was taken to Leeds General Infirmary as soon as he could be moved. Medics told Daniel that his spine was broken just below the neck.
The student has described his attitude as “positive” and said he is looking forward to the next stage of his recovery. He will be moved to a spinal rehabilitation unit when his condition improves and is optimistic about regaining a level of independence.
The day after the accident the 20-year-old underwent an operation in order to add support to his spine, so that his body could continue to support the weight of his head.
Daniel, an experienced rugby player who jokes that he was “amateur verging on England reserve”, has played rugby for POLIS for two years. Despite initially “falling out” with the game after his accident, he now realises how much he still likes rugby, and urges other students not to be put off inter-school sport.
Although the referee was a student himself, the family wished to make clear that they were happy with the way inter-school sport is organised and that they realise that rugby can be dangerous.
Fundraising events have been put off until the family know exactly how much Daniel will need, but it is likely that friends and family will help raise financial aid in the future.
The student has arranged with the University to defer the final year of his degree until September 2012. Daniel described himself as a “fairly ambitious person”, and told Leeds Student: “it was hard to deal with at first but the most important thing is that my brain is still intact so there is the possibility to achieve big things”.
Words: Lucy Holden