"My biggest barrier is my ventilator"
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Matt King was injured in a rugby accident in 2004 aged only 17. Matt's accident resulted in a C2 complete spinal cord injury, leaving him tetraplegic and completely reliant on a ventilator to breathe. Matt shared his story with us…
Please share with us how you sustained your spinal cord injury?
I was playing in my first game for the Broncos under-18 academy, it was my first paid game, and we were away in Halifax. 20 seconds into the match I went in for a tackle, as I had done thousands of times before, and I immediately knew something had gone wrong. Then the reality of what had happened hit home. I knew I'd broken my neck.
What was your first thought after the accident?
I wouldn't wish the thoughts that flashed through my head on the pitch on anyone. I was a 17-year-old boy with my whole life ahead of me and I was faced with a life in a wheelchair at best. The last thought I remember before falling unconscious was asking the paramedics to let me die.
How has your life changed since your injury?
Before my accident, my life revolved around sport, part-time work and girls. I'd always thought my career would be something active and I'd gone through the application process for the Royal Air Force. When I was in hospital, I had some long, long dark hours where I'd wake up in the night and think 'what am I going to do with my life?' It became clear that if I wanted to have a decent quality of life, I had to go back to school, complete my A-levels and go to university.
After completing his A-levels, Matt went on to study law at the University of Hertfordshire and graduated in 2009 with first-class honours. He now works as a trainee solicitor for a London firm. He chose law because "to put it bluntly, all you need is a good brain. Failure wasn't an option."
Which are the biggest barriers in your everyday life?
I would say my biggest barrier is my ventilator – that’s my number one. Not being able the breathe on your own is major and it needs constant management. Other than that, there are very few things which hold me back. You just need to think about the problems and overcome the obstacles.
What are the most positive aspects in your life?
Well now that I’m back leading a relatively normal life, I’m just pleased that I’m making a contribution to society. As well as my job as a trainee solicitor, I work alongside a lot of fantastic charities. I’m not just sitting back in my chair all day. I go out on a day-to-day basis, see my friends and do all the normal things a 26-year old should be doing.
What are your dreams for the future?
Short term my dream is to take part in the London Marathon next year – but I’m working on that one as it’s not simple. Longer term, it’s to continue living the same fulfilling life I do know. Making the best of everyday you know? It’s cliché but it’s true
What are your hopes for spinal cord injury research?
If I could choose for me, I’d like research to help me get rid of my ventilator. High level tetraplegics often hope to have only paraplegia side effects. Those with paraplegia often hope to walk. The bottom line is I hope there will be a cure for paralysis.
Thank you Matt.
If you have sustained a spinal cord injury after an accident and are interested in sharing your personal story, just send a short and informal message to firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be very pleased to hear from you.