A YOUNG mother who was left paralysed from the neck down after an horrific car crash has launched an appeal to enable her to hold and cuddle her three-year-old daughter.
Just before her 22nd birthday Bex Dyment was left critically injured after the crash and spent five months in intensive care. She was told by her doctors she would never again breathe without a ventilator.
At the time her daughter Scarlett was just two.
Eighteen months on and Bex, now 23, has defied her prognosis to return to her hometown in Exeter. She is now fundraising for private intense physiotherapy and acupuncture which would help her move her arms and "become a mum again" by giving her three-year-old daughter the cuddles she craves.
"Holding my beautiful daughter would be a dream come true," she said. "Scarlett is very confident, outgoing and has a great character. She loves nothing but attention and is a big softy at heart, and when she is all out of energy all she wants to do is snuggle and cuddle up to her mummy or daddy.
"But I can't cuddle my daughter back and I can't describe how heart-breaking that is. I just want to hug her."
Bex has what is known as a C3 spinal cord injury following the crash in in Tedburn St Mary in July last year. She said she remembers little of the incident before waking up in hospital.
She said: "I can remember dreaming that my arms were stuck to my sides and for some reason I couldn't move my legs. I started panicking and getting breathless and then it hit me, I wasn't dreaming at all, it was very real and I was no longer able to move my limbs.
"I tried speaking and shouting but no noise was coming out of my mouth. I looked around and saw that I was on a ventilator and the reason I couldn't speak was because I had a tracheostomy. I couldn't eat or drink either. The only way I could communicate was by nurses, family and friends trying to lip read me.
"When the reality of what had happened hit me I felt extremely scared, sick and I felt empty. My first and biggest worry was that I was never ever going to be able to touch or hold Scarlett again."
In the time since the crash she has come off the ventilator and can now breathe, eat and drink by herself.
"It was touch and go for me but I am very determined to get better," she added. "But as for physical movement, I haven't gained much at all which devastates me as all I want to do is try to move my arms every day.
"I have physiotherapy for an hour, five days a week and my arms have become much stronger than they were before. I am not able to have extra physiotherapy as I would have to have it privately which I simply can't afford.
"Having more physiotherapy would mean my chances of getting any movement back would be greater and I believe with a little more help I can move my arms again.
"I don't want to give up, I want to fight to get anything back that I used to have. My hope is there not only for myself but for my little girl, who deserves to be hugged by her mummy again.
"It breaks my heart to know I can't give her what she needs.
"I just want to be able to do all the normal things mum's do – run my hand through her hair and dress her up in nice skirts, nurture her and pick her up.
"It would mean everything to me. I am so frustrated at the moment and I cannot see a good outcome for my daughter's future if I cannot be a part of her growing up."
Close friend Lynnette Olding, who is supporting the appeal, said: "We have been given hope that if we can raise enough funds she can get the treatment she needs to use her arms.
"Before the crash she was active, very social and just loved being around people and taking her daughter on days out.
" She was an active young mum who just loved life and would do anything for her daughter. She still would if she was able.
"She has been given some hope that this treatment could genuinely help her use her arms in future. We just need help in raising the necessary funds."
Initially she need to raise £1,500 to get started on the treatment and around £10,000 to complete it.