Dr. Adam Malin describes what happened to him in February as “a real bugger!” In truth it is an understatement to the severe injury that has impacted on him and his family but belies an incredible spirit and outlook on life following his life-changing accident.
While cycling the Tour Aotearoa tragedy struck at Whakahoro just south of Taumarunui when a patch of mud caused Adam to lose control of his bike and tumble over a cliff and fall 20m to the forest floor below.
Fate intervened and his bike remained on the cycle track and moments later a pair of cyclists came across the unattended bike and called out for Adam. He had remained conscious through the fall but was lying prone and face down on the forest floor.
“I knew the injury must have been significant as I couldn’t feel the lower half of my body and just a fizzy sensation like I was floating. What I didn’t realise at the time was the irreversibility of the damage.”
Once the Rescue Helicopter had landed nearby, the crew located Adam after help from the bystanders. After traversing a river twice to reach the site it became apparent that it would be impossible to get him out the way the crew had entered the scene and the winch would be required to extract him from the forest.
Due to the nature of his injuries additional time was required to stabilise and transfer him to a nearby clearing before he could be hoisted onto the helicopter. Thankfully excellent teamwork from all involved and good conditions meant a straightforward process. “I couldn’t see very much at that point but I remember talking to Janine and Ed during the transfer and thinking what lovely people they were,” his interaction with the crew will no doubt create a long lasting bond between them.
The Rescue Helicopter transferred Adam to Middlemore Hospital in Auckland and their specialist spinal unit. On arrival in Auckland Adam was screened for major trauma and required to undergo four hours surgery. He is now a paraplegic, and although severely impacted, he is also thankful for his situation.
“I am so incredibly grateful that the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter exists. Without them who knows what might have happened?” Adam’s rehab has been challenging, with the global pandemic adding hurdles to his recovery. One of the cruel ironies following the accident is that as well as general medicine Adam specialises in respiratory and infectious diseases.
He has been screened for Covid-19 after being readmitted twice within a week of discharge due to high fever, which coincided with his 60th birthday.
Adam is looking forward to being reunited with his three adult children. His daughter made a trip out to see her father during the early stages of his recovery but returned to England on one of the last flights out of New Zealand. There is still no fixed date for his return to the UK with travel restrictions still in place.
Now down the line, and with a lot of healing behind him Adam is mastering the use of a wheelchair and has an eye on the future and being independent and autonomous, “I’d like to return to work but I’m sure it is likely to be less clinical and more in a support role.”
Prior to the accident Adam was regularly active completing several ironman races, posting a time that would qualify him for the Boston Marathon, and undertaking 10km swims.
“I am very lucky to be alive, and lucky not to have a brain injury and still have use of my arms. I want to race a half-marathon and explore swimming again,” says Adam.