A TEENAGE girl has been reunited with the horse she believes saved her life after being airlifted to hospital with a severe brain injury.
Brave Chloe Keane from Bantry returned to the stables where she was found seriously injured to be reunited with the animal she has renamed "Hero." Her sister Jorden shared the photograph with the Evening Echo just a month and a half after Chloe was found unconscious near the stables where she frequently rides. "Hero" had alerted the owner of the stables to where she lay. While the cause of her injuries is still unknown Chloe insists she owes her life to the horse.
The 16-year-old's future initially looked uncertain after she was flown to Cork University Hospital and placed into a medically induced coma. She defied doctors odds by taking her first steps and has now returned home ahead of her rehabilitation in Dun Laoghaire.
"It's surreal having her home," her older sister Jorden said. "For the first time since the accident, Chloe has started joking and smiling again."
Jorden confessed she found returning to the stables difficult, having been present at the scene.
"Chloe's first request after coming home was to return to the stables. Seeing Hero again was what made her so determined to come home. The journey to the stables was hard for mum and I but knowing that we had Chloe with us in the car made things a lot easier. Soon as the horses spotted Chloe they all popped their heads out. They were so happy to see her. She renamed the horse Hero because that's what she believes he is."
Jorden lauded her sister's determination.
"Chloe is amazing. She was determined to walk again and she did. She knew that even if she took one step it would be one step closer to home."
Before the accident, Chloe had been preparing to enter fifth year with her triplet brothers David and Steven.
Now she is awaiting a date to start her rehabilitation which is due to begin around December.
"At the moment she is not looking forward to it as Dun Laoghaire is so far from home. We try to keep reminding her just how important this will be for her. Chloe is doing well but she still has a long way to go. The movement on her left side is still very limited so we keep having to remind her to use it as much as possible. Chloe was due to start fifth year but she won't be returning to school this year. She knows that. Instead, she'll be treating this as a gap year."
Members of the Bantry community are doing everything they can to keep Chloe's spirits up.
"The whole of Bantry has been to see her," laughed Jorden. "The owner of the stables took her out for lunch a couple of times which was so nice. We're now hopeful that Chloe can go to school, just for a few days, to help her feel like a normal teenager again."
Jorden has remained devoted to her sister, even setting up a Go Fund me Page to cover her recovery costs which will amount to around €85,000. A total of €30,320 has already been raised for the cause.
"We are unbelievably grateful to everyone who has supported and contributed to the Go Fund Me page," Jorden added. "It has meant so much to our family."
A number of fundraisers will be held over the next couple of months to contribute towards Chloe's rehabilitation costs.
To donate to Chloe's rehabilitation fund visit http://www.gofundme.com/help-chloe-keane