The Sunday Post (Dundee)
There was no way I was going to let freak accident ruin my life
Brother of late MP tells of brave fight back from a horrific injury
THP brother of late Dib Dem former leader Charles Kennedy has taken his first steps after a paralysing injury – despite doctors telling him he would never walk again.
Ian Kennedy fainted and smashed his neck on a sink, leaving him unable to walk. He suffered catastrophic spinal cord injuries after he collapsed from diabetes in Charles’ kitchen in March 2014.
The 63-year-old lorry driver was told twice by doctors he would never stand on his own or walk again. But, incredibly, he has proven medical science wrong by taking his first tentative steps.
Speaking about his accident for the first time from his home in Fort William, Ian said: “I have pushed my body to the limit and achieved my dream of walking and standing again.
“There was no way I could accept what happened to me. It was devastating being paralysed from the neck down. I was helpless.”
Ian’s recovery has taken more than two years. He has been helped along the way by wife Caroline, 58, and a team of carers and physiotherapists.
Ian added: “There was no way I was going to spend the rest of my life unable to move. I was going to work at it until I moved again. If that meant hours of exercise forcing myself to move fingers, toes, arms and legs, I would.”
Ian’s spine was crushed in the freak accident when he collapsed in the former MP’s kitchen, next door to his own croft.
The diabetic fainted striking his neck on the kitchen sink. He had gone there to watch American wrestling on Charles’ TV.
“Ian was late back for his dinner so I went next door to see what was keeping him,” said Caroline.
“When I went in, he was lying motionless on the kitchen floor. We think he had blacked out because of his diabetes. He had not eaten much that day and fainted. I cradled him in my arms as I called for an ambulance.
“When I heard he was paralysed I worried that I had caused it by cradling him. But the doctors said the injury was because he hit the sink as he fainted.”
Ian was taken to the Belford Hospital in Fort William and airlifted to the spinal injuries unit at Glasgow’s then Southern General Hospital.
There, neurosurgeons carried out a two-hour operation to remove part of Ian’s vertebrae to relieve pressure on his damaged spinal cord. He was in a coma for two months.
“We feared he would never recover,” Carline added. She sat by his bedside as he spent six months in the unit. The couple married last year after being together for 22 years.
“We felt that life was so precarious and that we should marry,” Caroline smiled.
Now, two-and-a-half years on, he is walking and even stood up recently to unveil a stained-glass window tribute to his late brother at their local church, St John’s, in the nearby village of Caol.
The former Lib Dem leader and MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber died suddenly at his Fort William home aged just 55 on June 1, last year. “It was a dreadful blow losing him,” Ian said. “He was a local hero respected by many in the constituency. Our family went through a terrible time after my accident.”
Ian’s dream now is to recover enough to be able to play the drums again. Prior to his accident he was an accomplished percussionist who played in several bands. “I am working hard to get power back into my left arm. Then I could get back to playing the drums.
“Now that would be something,” he smiled.