By Sarah Slater
A father of one who defied death when he fell from a seven-storey building believes he is the luckiest man alive.
Dave Conway, 37, originally from Rathcoole, in Dublin will be celebrating St Patrick’s Day tomorrow by being discharged from an Australian hospital, where he has spent the last nine months battling to stay alive.
Carpenter Dave, lost both his legs from below his knees in the horrific fall when working on a construction site close to Brisbane on the Australian Gold Coast, on July 10 last year.
The upbeat Dubliner will be celebrating the national saint’s day with his Mum Connie, his wife Vivienne and seven-year-old daughter Keisha.
Dave was resuscitated by colleagues after falling 20 metres through scaffolding onto concrete at Lakefront Crescent at Varsity Lakes on the Gold Coast.
After landing feet first on concrete, Dave endured 38 operations and procedures, 82 litres of blood transfusions and two months in an induced coma.
Dave admitted he is looking forward to going home again but is a little nervous.
“I put it (staying alive) down to Irish endurance. I think I did die and they (doctors) brought me back to life. I promised my daughter, I’d be around forever, so that was the fight in me the whole time. I am really the luckiest and happiest man alive to be here.
“It will be strange but good to get out of hospital after all this time. I am nervous but that will all ease over time,” said Dave from his hospital bed.
“The doctors have allowed me to go out from the hospital for a few hours some days to reacclimatise myself. My home is also being modified and a ramp allowing me to get into it in a (wheelchair) has been installed.”
Dave, whose nickname is ‘Dodger’ does not remember anything about his fall and when he eventually woke up he thought somebody had hit him over the head. “I thought somebody had hit me over the head with something in Surfers Paradise. That’s the dream I had while I was in a coma.”
Two days after Dave’s fall, his entire family, Mum Connie, Dad Shay, brothers Stephen and Richie flew out to be with him not knowing if he would be alive once they made it to Brisbane.
“I didn’t know anything about falling off a building. My Dad showed me a video of the area and I was shocked. I didn’t know how anybody could survive that. It was all new to me,” explained Dave.
The Dublin man said that he was blown away by the dedication of hospital staff.
“You would wonder why if a person come in with such a bad condition like that, you’d wonder why they would bother. They’re amazing people to say,’look, let’s give this a good crack’. They’re (doctors) just passionate about their job.
“The Gold Coast University Hospital is probably one of the best in the world. If that was anywhere else, they might have put me in the garbage bin.”
He said his injuries brought his family and friends closer together and led them to raise €36,000 to help him with his lengthy recovery.
“It (the fall) has brought people together. We were all drifting apart and doing our own thing but it’s drawn everyone together. My friend Tadhg got a Dodger’s army tattoo and has paved the way for many of my other friends to follow suit in support.
“A lot of good came out of it too and if I can get prosthetics I’m back on track. I just have to take it one day at a time.”
Dave’s Mum Connie has remained in Australia since her son’s life changing fall and visits him daily - thankful he did not die. He emigrated to Australia in 2002 and has settled down making a happy life there.
Connie, who unfortunately broke her right arm, when helping to install the ramp which her son will use to access his home two weeks ago said: “The doctors did all they could but they couldn’t save his legs. They worked relentlessly to help him survive and I think he realises that. I think he knows it’s his second chance.”
It took a team of 200 medics to save his life.
Dr Martin Wullschleger, Director of Trauma at the Gold Coast University Hospital explained how they dealt with the Dublin man’s injuries. “Initially we thought it’s (injuries) mainly internal bleeding from his abdomen and pelvis. It (the fall) pushed the forces up in to his chest.”
In a few months time, Dave and his family hope he will get his prosthetics and an electric wheelchair with the aid of continual fundraising.