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29th Jun, 2022

Former KES pupil vows to walk again after breaking his back falling out of tree

Sarah Mason 26th Jun, 2018 Updated: 3rd Jul, 2018

A FORMER Stratford schoolboy remains determined to become a doctor after he was left paralysed when he fell from a tree.

Xander Van Der Poll, a former deputy head boy at KES, was walk his dog with his girlfriend in a Balsall Common park when he spotted an oak tree he used to climb as a youngster.

The first year medical student at Bristol University clambered up the tree but lost his footing and plunged eight-foot to the ground smashing his back on the exposed roots.

Pictures taken at the scene show paramedics desperately trying to stabilise Xander following the accident in May.

But the 19-year-old remains determined to become a doctor and to sit his exams in the next couple of weeks.

Speaking from his hospital bed, he said: “I saw the tree I used to climb as a child and decided to climb it. I’d climbed it a million times growing up and never fell once.

“When I hit the floor I immediately knew there was something wrong.

“It felt like my legs were still in the air but when I looked down my legs were lying flat on the floor.

“Even though I could see them on the floor it still felt like they were in the air.

“When I touched them I couldn’t feel them at that point I knew something was badly wrong.

“It really hit me hard at that moment, just thinking well this is the end of my life.

“Everything was rushing through my head about my entire life, I just thought to myself what are the things I will never he be able to do again.”

Xander was taken to University Hospital of Coventry and Warwickshire where he was told he had suffered a burst fracture in his spine.

He added: “Being a medical student I knew that it was serious because the spinal cord runs through a canal in the bones, and the bone burst and part it imprinted on my spinal cord.

“They removed those imprints from my spinal cord and they just fixed it with titanium rod and screws.

“I’m determined to walk again. Hopefully over a period of a months or years the connections of the cords will be remade.”

Xander has started a blog on Instagram called Six Weeks In Bed about his treatment and recovery which has already attracted more than 2,500 followers.

He added: “The amazing support I get from the rugby club I play for and from all my other friends has really help me get through my stay here.

“There has been points where I have doubted that I will ever walk again.

“I had complete strangers wishing me luck, I got sent a monkey in the post by someone from Germany.

“It’s just these little things that gives me hope, when you’re in the situation it can seem like a dark place.”

KES headteacher Bennett Carr said: “Xander excelled at school, making the most of the opportunities available to him but was always willing to give something back – perhaps unsurprising for someone who is now training to be a doctor.

“It was clear, even from the very early days with us, that he had a bright future ahead of him and this tragic accident changes nothing.

“He was his usual effervescent self when I visited him in hospital and I was struck again by his tremendous strength of character.  He is a young man of whom we are incredibly proud and he knows that the school community will be there to support him as he faces the challenges ahead.“

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