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'I nearly died' - woman left in coma recalls holiday balcony fall and 'miracle' recovery

By Kathleen Speirs & Steven Smith

It was a freak accident that changed Jennifer Walsh's life. On holiday in Croatia, she went out onto her hotel balcony to get her shoes before a night out.

The next thing she knew, she was waking up in hospital a week later. Since then, she has had to learn to walk and talk again.

Jennifer, 23, was on holiday in Croatia when she fell from the balcony as she got ready to enjoy a night out with friends. She was putting a shoe on when her foot got stuck.

She toppled over the wall and fell 40ft. Jennifer, from Edinburgh, suffered a bleed on the brain, two separate skull fractures, a broken collar bone, a fractured wrist and broken ribs, which punctured her left lung.

Speaking to the Daily Record, she said: “I was in an apartment getting ready with friends we had met on a boat trip earlier that day. I went out to the balcony to collect my shoe and put it on, but my foot got stuck on the balcony ledge.

“I then woke up in hospital a week later to see my mum in hospital. Everything in the middle is a total blur.

“Because I was on so much medication, to begin with I didn’t realise what had happened. I was too out of it to be scared.

“But now I can’t believe what happened, I’m just so happy to be here and healthy. I nearly died.”

Her distraught parents James, 48, and Victoria, 54, flew to Croatia to be at their daughter’s hospital bedside.

Victoria said: “On the flight there, James and I were taking turns to cry. We were beside ourselves. Due to Covid, we could only visit Jennifer in hospital for 15 minutes.

“The amount of tears we shed at her bedside could have drowned her. To see your child unconscious is horrific.”

Jennifer, who worked in banking, had part of her skull removed to stop her brain bleed, with medics fearing her recovery would take up to six months. But, after waking from her coma, she was transferred to hospital in Edinburgh.

There, she worked to walk and talk again with the help of NHS medics at the Scottish capital’s Astley Ainslie Hospital. Jennifer’s sister Sara, 21, had set up a fundraiser to have her flown home and support the family, raising more than £40,000.

Victoria added: “The kindness of strangers and the local community has been amazing. Sara set up the page and, without it, we don’t know what state Jennifer would be in. It’s so overwhelming.”

Jennifer Walsh had a titanium mesh put over the part of her skull (The Daily Record)

Last month, Jennifer had a titanium mesh put on the part of her skull that was removed, meaning it is fully protected. While her speech “took a while” to come back, her recovery was dubbed “a miracle” by doctors.

Jennifer added: “I came out of the coma a different person. Before, I worried about how I looked and thought I was ugly and fat.

"From the minute I realised I had survived, I began loving myself. After the mesh surgery, my left eye was bruised and that side of my face was swollen, plus my head had to be completely shaved.

“But 10 days later, I was at Terminal V Festival in Edinburgh with my friends, fully back to normal and wearing a wig, which I love. I’m so happy to have recovered and I think that’s what pushes me to get better.”

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Dive Deeper:
Scots woman left in coma after Croatia hotel balcony plunge tells of 'nearly dying'
Jennifer Walsh from Edinburghwas on holiday in Dubrovnik with her friend on Saturday, October 7 when disaster struck.
Edinburgh woman fell from hotel balcony while getting ready for night out
Jennifer Walsh was on holiday in Croatia with her pals when she fell from her hotel balcony whilst getting ready…
Miracle as woman, 23, escapes death after falling 40ft from hotel balcony in Croatia
Jennifer Walsh, who 'nearly died' in the accident, said she came out of the coma 'a different person' and 'began…
Wednesday's headlines: Selfless Rangers fan to raffle off Europa League final ticket for charity
Wednesday's headlines: Selfless Rangers fan to raffle off Europa League final ticket for charity and loved ones of missing Scot…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Heartbreak as Gateshead lad has part of skull removed after horrific motorcycle crash
Cameron Turnbull was rushed to Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infimrary following a brutal bike crash on Bensham Bank in April, leaving…
No 'silver-bullet cause of death' as experts disagree in murder trial
Two forensic pathologists have disagreed about the cause of death of ACT auctioneer Peter Keeley.
Get all your news in one place