University of Otago student hospitalised in rock climbing accident

Family members of a 21-year-old University of Otago student who fell 12m while rock climbing in the US say it is easier to count the bones she did not break in the accident.

Anna Parsons, formerly of Invercargill, was climbing on Runout Slab at Snake Dike in Yosemite National Park when she slipped and rolled down a steep slope, hitting a ledge on the way down.

The university student, who broke nearly every bone in her body, racked up a $1.2 million hospital bill after needing to have her leg amputated, NZ Herald reports.

Her sister, Jessica Ennor, said the fall caused Anna to break her neck, spine, pelvis, ribs, wrist, feet and toes, and left her with internal injuries, including a punctured lung.

Her left foot was so badly damaged that it had to be amputated and last week she had major reconstructive surgery on her right foot, she said.

“The only things that weren’t broken were her arms, her thigh bones and her head, which is amazing,” Jessica said.

“It was a hard decision to take her foot off, but it’s the best way for her to get back to doing those things that she loves.

“She’s a very fun-loving, family-orientated, outgoing, hardworking and studious person, passionate about environmental issues.

“She loves surfing, rock climbing, mountain biking, tramping – that’s her lifestyle.”

Anna is a third-year marine ecology student who recently won a scholarship to spend time studying at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre in British Columbia, Canada.

Jessica said her sister went to North America early so she could do some climbing before her studies started.

“She has been rock climbing for a couple of years, but I wouldn’t say she was experienced.

“Runout Slab was supposed to be an easy climb,” Jessica said.

Her parents flew over straight after the accident to be by her bedside.

Anna said in a social media message that she was grateful to the quick and efficient rescue team who got her off the side of the mountain and straight to the hospital via helicopter.

Because the hospital started working on her back straight away, she has not been paralysed by her spinal injuries.

“Doctors say she will be able to walk,” Jessica said.

“We weren’t sure for a couple of days, but she can now move her knees and wiggle her toes.

“So once that reconstructive surgery has healed, she’ll have to learn to walk again with a prosthetic.”

She said her sister had been “getting very overwhelmed with emotion” about how lucky she was to be “alive, saved and spared”.

“She’s also very up and down – sometimes the pain’s too much.

“We know it’s going to be a long journey but she’s amazingly positive and she’s already talking about being an amazing marine scientist with one leg, hiking through the mountains, testing algae.”

Jessica said it was still too early to say when her sister would be able to come home, adding: “I don’t think we should rush it.”

Anna remains in hospital near San Francisco where she is racking up huge medical bills.

Her travel insurance is only covering part of the costs of her surgeries and hospital care.

“Money is something we don’t like to stress about but Anna’s medical bills exceed $1 million,” Jessica said.

So her family have set up a Givealittle page to pay for a prosthesis, treatment and rehabilitation.

About $50,000 has been raised to date, but the goal is to reach $500,000.

This story originally appeared on NZ Herald and is republished here with permission

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