Queen Mary's Hospital star role tonight with Trevor McDonald

7/7 survivor beats the odds to walk again with the Bader Unit


Tonight With Trevor McDonald - ITV1 at
8pm Monday 24 April 2006

New Queen Mary's handed over

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Tube bomb survivor Martine Wright has spoken for the first time of her battle to walk again after losing her legs in the July 7 blasts.

After almost nine months of gruelling effort, Martine finally achieved her goal by leaving hospital earlier this month on new artificial limbs.

A film crew from ITV1's Tonight With Trevor McDonald followed her progress throughout her treatment at the specialist Douglas Bader unit at Queen Mary's Hospital, Roehampton, south London, where for many weeks she spent six hours every day in the gym learning to use the special prosthetic legs.

In a programme to be broadcast on Monday 24 April at 8pm on ITV1, the 33-year-old international marketing manager describes the mental and physical challenges she faced after losing her legs in the explosion at Aldgate Underground station last July.

Martine, who faces costs far in excess of the £110,000 she has so far received in compensation for her injuries, also accuses the government of having 'no idea' of the financial burden of rebuilding her life.

And she talks about the emotional anguish of coming to terms with her injuries and the optimism for the future her new legs have given her.

Martine was sitting three feet from a British born suicide bomber when an explosion tore apart her underground train carriage in the tunnel close to Aldgate Station. She was the last person to be rescued from the wreckage and her family spent 24 hours desperately searching before finding her lying unconscious in the Royal London Hospital. Her injuries were so severe that her legs had to be amputated above the knee and she spent the next nine months in hospital.

During that time, she learnt to walk again using £20,000, state of the art legs, which are computer programmed to respond to Martine's movements. They have knee and ankle joints, in order to replicate as closely as possible, a natural walk. The new legs need to be precisely fitted and Martine faced a strict fitness regime to build sufficient strength to operate them.

She tells Sir Trevor McDonald: "They say it is 300 per cent more difficult for me to walk than an able-bodied person. If I had my knees it would only be 100 per cent. So I am relearning it quite like a baby. I am getting up, falling down. It is a new thing everyday."

She also describes how the horror of the terrorist explosions haunts her.
After watching a documentary about the atrocities, she says: "Since then I can't stop thinking about what happened. It's a bag of mixed emotions. It's you thinking or me thinking how big it was and how it affected London and hearing the emergency calls that were sent through and me just thinking, 'Oh my God, I was down there.' And then thinking, 'Why me out of 5 million people? Why was it me? I get the tube everyday, why was I on that train for one, why was I in the carriage?' And then you start feeling guilty because I survived. I mean a lot of people died so you know I was lucky, I just don't think I was that lucky."

She adds: "I still sometimes think that my legs will somehow come back all of a sudden, I don't know whether I will wake up one morning and maybe this is a test, a temporary thing. But the reality is they've gone, they will never come back."

Martine has publicly campaigned for the victims of the July bombings to be fully compensated by the government. Unable to return to the first floor flat she previously lived in, and with access at the family home unsuitable, Martine now needs a bungalow.

But without compensation promised by the government, she cannot afford a suitable home. Even putting a lift into the family home will cost thousands of pounds.

Martine says: "The government just has no idea. Whether it's for operations, whether it's living normal life, whether it's buying a wheelchair for two thousand pounds, whether it's having to buy a big car so I can put my wheelchair in. They have no idea at all and it angers me."

Despite the difficulty of the challenges she faced, Martine's hard work and determination pays off.

Maggie Uden, her physiotherapist at Queen Mary's, tells the programme:
"Martine's progress has just been phenomenal. To be able to walk with two free knee artificial limbs is fantastic and we have very, very rarely seen that here."

But Martine shares her fears about leaving hospital for the first time with her new legs on a visit home for Christmas.

She says: "What will happen if I'm in the supermarket and what will happen if I fall over? I can manage walking but what else can I manage, will I manage holding a bag, a cup of tea? This is one thing that runs through my head a lot, when I have children will I be able to hold my baby, and not fall over? So I think the biggest test is when I get out of hospital, and trying to re-learn normal life."

However, on leaving hospital for the final time, Martine reveals her hopes for the future to Sir Trevor McDonald.

She says: "To be able to walk out here in the gardens and you know just sort of chat away and be out of my chair is fantastic...Just having the ability to laugh about things and have a sense of humour.

"I think back now to when I was in Royal London just after the accident you know someone did come up to me and said, 'I don't think you'll ever be able to walk with sticks, you'll always be on a frame, you won't be able to walk up stairs.' And I look at myself now seven months on and I'm doing those things.

"It's really given me a positive vibe about what's ahead. It's an absolutely terrible thing that's happened but I've just got to think, I'm here and there are lots of people that didn't survive that day.

She adds: "I think the attitude I've got now after what happened that day is you've got to grab as much as you can and you've got to experience as much as you can. I know there are some things I know I can't do now but there are some things that I can do and I'll probably be better at now for it.

April 24, 2006