Mum begged doctors to amputate her hand for decades after devastating car crash
Paratriathlete Nicola Wilding has been living in constant, chronic pain for the last two decades, after a life-changing car crash at the age of 22.
The crash left her without the use of her right arm, but her quick thinking meant she was the only casualty.
Nicola, from South Croydon, experienced a tyre blowout at 70 mph while driving along the A23 from Brighton.
Thinking fast in the heat of the moment, she managed to avoid all other road users and steer the car onto the hard shoulder, however, without any crash barriers on the road, Nicola’s car clipped the curb and rolled.
She suffered a severe brachial plexus injury, damaging the nerves in her right hand and forearm.
Now, the 42-year-old mum of one is desperate to have two working hands again – and is on a mission to raise a huge amount of money for surgery and prosthetics.
Since the crash in 1999, Nicola has been through numerous muscle and nerve transplants in an attempt to restore function, all while raising her now-24 year old son alone.
She kept herself fit through cycling, running and swimming, but after years of frustration and sick of nerve and phantom limb pain, she begged doctors to remove the redundant hand and partial limb.
After being refused the removal of her hand in her twenties, Nicola waited until 2017 for an elective amputation and reconstructive surgery to help restore the nerve pathways in her arm.
Through fundraising and with the help of friends and family, Nicola has managed to raise an amazing £20,000. However, to continue with her treatment, Nicola needs to raise a further £60,000.
The money will be used to provide Nicola with a Bebionic hand, one of the world’s most lifelike prosthetics, as well as further operations to reconstruct and restore nerve pathways.
With the specialised prosthetic costing upwards of £30,000, Nicola’s choices are to raise enough money for the operation or opt for further amputation to reduce her pain.
‘There’s only so much money you can ask from your friends and family,’ says Nicola.
‘My son has been absolutely fantastic. Not only has he donated as much as he can, but he’s also taken so much time out of his busy schedule as a self-employed scaffolder to run me around and has helped me with all my kit.
‘My mum has also been my rock throughout my journey, enduring all the early starts for my triathlons, she’s never far from my side.
‘I hope that this can not only be an opportunity for me to be pain-free, but also to help other amputees to realise that quality of life can be improved with the right support and technology.’
Supported by the Superhero Foundation, Nicola will be taking part in three gruelling challenges over the next two years and is hoping that the public can come together to support her with her mission.
Nicola will be putting herself through a half Ironman in June 2020, as well as the national Three Peaks Challenge in 2021. Her teammates will also be joining her, and have all pledged to only use one arm in solidarity.
Supporting the challenges is Jamie McDonald – founder of the Superhero Foundation – who last year dressed as alter-ego Adventureman, broke the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance covered on a treadmill in seven days, just weeks after finishing a 5,500-mile run across the US.
Nicola will also be supported by Captain Armless, also known as Alex Paterson, a Superhero Foundation mentor who has also been helped to raise life-changing amounts of money by the Superhero Foundation.
‘I’m so proud that the Superhero Foundation have the opportunity to support Nicola on her journey,’ says Jamie.
‘Not only did her quick thinking undoubtedly save further casualties and maybe even lives in the original accident, but what she’s been through is almost hard to wrap your head around. I’m sure with our support we can get Nicola the treatment she desperately needs.’