While in medical school, doctors become experts on the human body and what it can and can not withstand. However, the textbooks don’t account for the power of hope and the human spirit.
On May 22, 2017, a 41-year-old father of 1 survived a deadly terrorist attack. Doctors said it was a miracle he survived, but he refused to listen to them when they told him he’d be stuck in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Now, less than a year later, he’s proven them all wrong…
On the night of May 22, 2017, Martin Hibbert was 1 of thousands gathered at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England to see Ariana Grande perform live. But right after the performance, the evening of fun turned into a living nightmare.
The Manchester Arena Bombing
While the concertgoers started to file out of the stadium, a suicide bomber detonated a homemade bomb, which killed him and 22 other innocent men, women, and children, who were tragically killed by the bomb, which had been packed with nails and shrapnel…
512 other concertgoers received non-fatal injuries from the explosion. One of those survivors is 41-year-old Martin Hibbert, the closest person to the explosion to survive. Martin miraculously survived the blast, but, sadly, he didn’t manage to walk away from it.
An Irreversible Injury
Martin’s body was hit by 22 nails and bolts. Thankfully, none of the pieces of shrapnel hit any of Martin’s vital organs, but he was left paralyzed from the belly button down after 1 nail hit his spinal cord. Martin was rushed to the hospital, but doctors told him there was nothing they could do…
Lucky To Be Alive
“I’ve since been told it was like being shot 22 times at point-blank range. My surgeon said if it wasn’t for my strong heart I’d have died at the scene,” said Martin. “The way I look at it I’m incredibly lucky to be alive. To still be here, to have none of those bolts hit any of my vital organs, is amazing.”
Processing The News
Martin and his wife, 45-year-old Gabby, knew it was a miracle that Martin survived the night but he was having a hard time processing what doctors were telling him about his spinal injury. According to the doctors, his spinal cord had been severed…
Doctors at the hospital ran all kinds of tests and had X-rays and scans taken to get a better look at the injury. Based on the severity of the injury, there was no chance he would recover and walk again, and the doctors were honest with Martin so he wouldn’t get false hope about his situation.
“All the doctors say that walking again after a spinal cord injury is impossible. You’re told, ‘You’ll be in a chair for life’ and, ‘You can’t do this or that,’” Martin said. However, the father of 1 and soccer agent refused to listen to the doctors…
Determined To Prove Them Wrong
“I’ve always been determined and driven, so when doctors showed me the X-ray of my spine it was a case of, ‘How dare you say I am never going to walk again? I’ll show you.’ That’s the type of person I am,” said Martin, who became obsessed with finding alternative treatments to heal his injury.
Looking For A Miracle
“Even when I Googled treatments I was told to put the iPad down and concentrate on life in a chair,” Martin said about how his team of doctors reacted when they found out he was looking online for cutting-edge treatments for spinal cord injuries…
“On leaving hospital in the UK I was told that the biggest thing I’d be doing was transferring to the settee from my wheelchair and vice versa,” Martin said. While Martin was hopeful in the beginning, the hope he had started to dwindle after going home.
When Martin was sent home, it finally started to sink in that the doctors were done trying to help him. After being told he would never walk again so many times by so many different doctors, surgeons, and experts, Martin started to listen to them…
However, Martin never gave up researching alternative therapies and advancements in the hope that someone would be willing to help him. When he came across a pioneering therapist in Australia named Ken Ware, who was able to help an Australian Paralympian paralyzed for almost 25 years walk and run again, Martin knew he had to get his help.
A 10,000-Mile Journey
Martin and his wife Gabby got on a plane and traveled 10,000 miles to Queensland, Australia. Ken assessed his case, and Martin started undergoing NeuroPhysics Therapy, which trains the brain to bypass damaged nerves and send impulses through other routes…
Finding A Way
“Imagine a huge tree falling across a motorway, blocking the way and causing a build-up of cars,” Ken said. “Eventually, with enough incentive, and the right conditions, drivers will find a way around the obstruction. That’s exactly how the body works, too.”
The First Treatment
Martin immediately started treatment, and within hours of the very first session, he saw his toe move for the first time in almost a year. “It was incredible when my toes moved for the first time. I was lying on a bed, watching TV, when I spotted the first movement. I still couldn’t feel anything but my toes were moving by themselves. By the next morning, I was able to flex them back and forth,” Martin said. And that was just the beginning…
‘Is this real or a dream?’
“Then each day brought a new miracle, from sitting up unaided and perfectly balanced to actually being able to bend and lift my legs,” said Martin, who was able to pull himself up onto his legs and stand on his own on the third day of therapy. “They’ve been going crazy, like a footballer’s. You can see tendons and muscles firing under the skin and the covers move constantly while I’m lying in bed. I’ve got this big smile on my face and I keep having to ask myself, ‘Is this real or a dream?’”
After 2 weeks, Martin was able to cycle again, cross his legs, kneel on hands and knees, and started crawling. During his final session before returning to England, Martin started regaining feeling. “I could feel my toes being pinched, with the sensation traveling all the way up my feet and legs,” Martin said. “To know that pain receptors are starting to kick in is incredible and, according to the clinic, offers great hope for the future. My legs have been going mad on the long flight home…”
Defying The Odds
“From the moment the blast happened I have wanted to stick two fingers up to the terrorists and say, ‘You can take away my legs but you are not going to take away my life,’” said Martin, who still has a long way to go but is certain he will be able to walk again. “I am a different person to the one who came out here last week… Some of the things I have seen and done here have blown my mind. The highest point was learning to stand. I’ve not felt that tall for a long time. To see the world at that height was magical,” Martin said.
A New Goal
“I spent all my time accepting that and coming to terms with it, and then Ken comes along and shows there is something else out there. And this is just the start of it… For the first time since the bombing, I feel free and strong. Like a rock that nothing can break,” Martin said. “This treatment transforms lives. I am not a religious or spiritual person at all. But I truly believe that there is a reason why we survived that night.” Now Martin’s goal is to be able to walk his cocker spaniel, Alfie, which is something he’s missed the most since his injury. “And I’ll get there.”