Slicing her spleen in half in a snowboard accident 19,000 kilometres from home became a positive experience for Bianca Stares.
The 23-year-old Brit crashed up on The Remarkables skifield three weeks ago.
Stares, who’s from Southampton, was helicoptered directly to Southland Hospital, where she underwent life-saving surgery.
But despite suffering the worst pain she’s ever experienced, Stares says the accident has left her feeling “blessed”.
That’s down to the dedication of medics and support from friends and family.
Stares: “I can now say I have been blessed as opposed to being unfortunate,” she says.
“From the brilliant friends who I had huddled around me, to the immediate medical staff member who came running up the mountain, the medical centre staff, wonderful helicopter volunteers - Dan Bentley and his co-workers - to the fantastic nurses, and the surgeon, Julian Speight.”
Surgery included putting her spleen back together and fastening it into a mesh bag, after draining 1.5 pints of blood from her abdomen.
Stares says she’s stunned by the care she’s received as she’s progressed through the Kiwi medical system.
Physios, the anaesthetist, St John health shuttle drivers, hospital receptionists, pharmacists and ACC case workers all tended to her like a new-born baby, she says.
Stares, in her first season on the snow, crashed after looking up to see friends on a ski lift over her head.
“I lost concentration and caught an edge,” she says.
“I scorpioned forward, managed to kick myself in the back of my head and just rolled so quickly. I’m not a contortionist, so the pressure was too much for my spleen which was split in half.
“I was in and out of consciousness. I could just see colours flashing around and had huge pain to the abdominal area.”
Stares, in town on a holiday working visa, is slowly working her way back to full health.