Surfer with 'stuffed legs' gets helping hand

Kitesurfer lucky not to lose leg

BRITTANY MANN
Last updated 05:00 09/06/2014
Kris Blenkiron, with son Byron
CAMERON BURNELL/Fairfax NZ
BLOWN AWAY: Kris Blenkiron, with son Byron, almost completely severed one leg and broke bones in the other in a kitesurfing accident. Now the Titahi Bay Surf Lifesaving Club – whose boat he crashed into – is fundraising to help his recovery.
Kris Blenkiron
Supplied
'STUFFED' Kris Blenkiron almost completely severed one leg and broke bones in the other in a kitesurfing accident.

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Kris Blenkiron almost lost his leg when he collided with a surf lifesaving boat while kitesurfing.

But he could hardly have crashed into a better boat.

The Titahi Bay Surf Lifesaving Club was first to offer help at the scene, and has now joined forces with the Parliamentary Rugby Team to raise money to support Blenkiron's recovery.

Blenkiron, 32, was kitesurfing in February when a rogue gust carried him into the path of a surfboat on a training exercise.

His only thought before he slammed across the boat's bow was, "Oh, shit".

"I came up out of the water and I knew instantly that my legs were stuffed," he said.

Both bones in his lower right leg had broken through his skin. His left leg was nearly completely severed.

Orthopaedic surgeon Fred Phillips said it was "as severe an injury as you could possibly get to that knee, without getting close to losing the leg".

"Every major structure in the knee had been damaged. The only thing not ruptured was the main artery to the leg, which was basically holding the knee together."

Blenkiron was in hospital for 12 days before coming home to partner Breeanna Willmott, 24, and their son Byron, now eight-months-old.

"It's been frustrating being so helpless," he said. "I spent the best part of the first month sitting on the couch not really being able to do much at all.

"Slowly, I've been gaining mobility. But then my right leg didn't heal properly and I had to get the old pin and plate taken out and get it rerodded."

Blenkiron, a former navy serviceman, and Willmott met in Germany while working on yachts last year and had only recently returned to New Zealand when the accident occurred.

Having been out of work for more than 28 days, and with a house deposit in the bank, he was not eligible for financial support from either ACC or Work and Income. Since the accident, the couple have had to dip into their deposit to make ends meet.

Now the lifesaving club has come to the rescue again. It will play a fundraising match against the Parliamentary Rugby Team in Titahi Bay on Saturday to help the couple.

Event organiser Peter Jones said usually once they rescued someone, they did not keep in touch.

"But we've followed up on Kris.

"He's become a friend of the club. The first time I met him, I thought ‘wow, he's an amazing guy with an amazing spirit and attitude.'

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"He's given service to the country, got injured, and isn't eligible for the help that a less deserving person would get."

The match would be followed by an auction, and more donated items were welcome.

Blenkiron hoped to return to work within a year, if his legs continue to heal well.

- The Dominion Post

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