Young girl's recovery from horror fatal crash in time for Christmas is 'medical miracle' says mum
By Chloe Hart
Posted earlier today at 6:19am
PHOTO: Mackinlee Anderson has defied medical expectations to return home for Christmas after a horror car crash in September.
Doctors thought six-year-old Mackinlee Anderson was brain dead and paralysed after a car accident that killed her grandmother and injured her mother and brother.
Four cars and a B-double semi trailer were involved in the crash on the Pacific Highway at Port Macquarie, on the New South Wales coast, on September 26.
Emergency services were shocked that some members of the Gold Coast family came out of the wreckage alive.
"[Mackinlee] had a broken pelvis in three places, a ruptured bladder, dislocated hip, broken femur," her mother Kylie Anderson said.
"They said her left side was paralysed, [she had an] extreme brain injury and we were told she was 99.8 per cent brain dead."
Ms Anderson's mother — and Mackinlee's grandmother — 72-year-old Kay Anderson from Wollongong, who was driving, died in the crash.
Doctors 'astonished' by recovery
PHOTO: Mackinlee spent several weeks in intensive care. (Supplied: Kylie Anderson)
It has been a long road but Mackinlee's incredible recovery has caught her doctors by surprise.
"Astonishing. We are so pleased she has done so well," said Dr David MacDonald, head of paediatrics at Port Macquarie Hospital where the Mackinlee was initially treated after the accident.
"She was so severely injured I wouldn't have been surprised at all if she had not survived — and if she did, she would be extremely severely impaired."
After being transferred to the intensive care unit at the John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle for some weeks, Mackinlee is now a little closer to home at Lady Cilento Hospital in Brisbane where she is undergoing rehabilitation.
"Things are going remarkably well and considering the severity of her injuries, we are so grateful to see her start to walk again, to talk, and she is in good spirits," Dr Macdonald said.
Three months on from that terrible day, Mackinlee is set to leave hospital and head home for Christmas.
"Mackinlee's beat all the odds and to have her home at Christmas is an absolute miracle and that's my present," her mother said.
Road to recovery
Mackinlee initially underwent a marathon 13-hour surgery and was in the ICU for almost three weeks before she began to use her eyes to communicate.
PHOTO: Doctors described Mackinlee's recovery as 'astonishing'.
After about a month, she started talking and stopped needing to be tube fed.
However, she still has a long way to go teaching herself to walk again and strengthen her left side.
"Her left side is still weak, but she now has full use of it," Kylie said.
"Her speech has come back tenfold, and she is now eating normal foods and they are hoping to have her back in school by February."
Her brother Riley has been instrumental in helping his sister with her rehabilitation, helping her do arm twirls and leg curls at her bedside.
Kylie said her daughter would need intensive physiotherapy, and occupational and speech therapy until she turned 18.
"Her fantastic recovery is due to some great care and being a child, children's brains have remarkable recovery," Dr Macdonald said.
"There will be a need for prolonged recovery and assistance and the more help they get, the better the outcome will be, but I am optimistic."
Reminder to take care on roads
Despite the good news of Mackinlee coming home for Christmas, the Anderson's are not celebrating too much while they try to find the money to pay for Mackinlee's ongoing medical care.
PHOTO: Kay Anderson was killed in the car accident in which Mackinlee was injured. (Facebook: Kylie Anderson)
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help pay for rehabilitation costs, including a new wheelchair, walking frame, access ramps for the house and a shower chair.
And as thousands of families hit the roads this Christmas break, holiday makers are being urged to drive safely to the conditions.
"The road conditions were undoubtedly a contributor [to the Anderson's accident]," Dr Macdonald said.
"During the upgrade of the Pacific Highway, before the dual carriageway which is now open, there was a significant spike in road trauma of which Mackinlee's case was one."
Kylie believes her mother Kay saved her granddaughter's life.
The family requested donations to the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in lieu of flowers at Kay's funeral.
"My mother lived for her grandkids and died for her grandkids," she said.
"If it wasn't for this special angel sitting on her shoulder, I don't think Mackinlee would have made it."