Stuart Gillan

Stuart Gillan's Spinal Fund

Fundraising for Aspire
raised of £30,000 target
by 238 supporters

Verified by JustGiving

RCN 1075317
We support people with Spinal Cord Injury to help them live full, independent lives


Some of you may have seen the film 'Sliding Doors,' which focuses around the idea that an instantaneous, out of the ordinary decision can change one's life. I had been on a successful business trip to Germany and going home using Edinburgh Airport on a positive note, I was looking forward to celebrating with my wife, Gillian. 

Rather than catching a tram into town to catch a direct train to my local station, I saw a bus to Glasgow leaving in 5 minutes. Never having done this before, I gave it a try but I arrived in Glasgow in the middle of rush-hour, so I chose to go to a German bar near Central Station until the rush-hour passed. Directly outside the bar, the pavement has a ‘double-height’ kerb: a normal kerb, followed by another with similar dimensions. 

I have crossed that road hundreds of times but this time I was falling with my bags in my right hand and somehow, my left hand did not go out to save me. I hit the road face first, breaking my nose and moving my lower jaw backwards by several millimetres. When I came to, I felt a cold wave sensation, starting at my toes and slowly working itself up my legs, towards my neck, with an inability to move. The first thing that went through my mind was that I was lying in the middle of a very busy street, wondering when something would drive over me.

Someone found me and called an ambulance. When it arrived, I was carefully lifted inside and taken to The Glasgow Royal Infirmary. I was in enormous distress, convinced I was unable to breathe because the spinal injury affected my diaphragm muscles, instantly reducing my ability to take a deep breath. I remember feeling incredible panic. Gillian tells me she has never seen someone in so much distress, despite her years in nursing… 

I was admitted to the GRI, ICU for 3 days before being transferred to the Queen Elizabeth National Spinal Injuries Unit - High Dependency Unit (HDU) for 2 weeks before being moved to the respiratory ward for a further 6 weeks. I was then moved to rehabilitation for 6 months, spending approximately 9 months in hospital. I had surgery on my spinal column, inserting 4 titanium plates allowing my spinal cord to expand because I did not break or fracture anything - my spinal cord was bruised causing "C5 spinal compression with incomplete tetraplegia”. In some ways, I feel lucky because 1 cm higher and I would have required a respirator.

Thank you all so much to all of the emergency crew and medical staff for your help and care and to everyone making donations thus far, it is incredibly moving and welcoming.

About the charity


Verified by JustGiving

RCN 1075317
Every four hours someone in the UK is paralysed by a spinal cord injury. It can happen to anyone at any time and no one is prepared for how it will change their life. Aspire is a national charity that provides practical help, supporting spinal cord injured people from injury to independence.

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