A student who thought she broke her leg in a rugby accident had to have a shock amputation less than two weeks later.
Gracie Matthews, who lives in Salford, was rushed to hospital after suffering an injury in her hometown near Milton Keynes in 2016.
The 28-year-old was left in agony after dislocating her knee when she was tackled to the ground.
She felt a sharp shooting pain and thought she had broken a bone, but doctors feared it was more severe than initially thought when they failed to find a pulse in her foot.
For 10 days, medics desperately fought to save her limb but the ligaments, muscles and arteries had been severely damaged.
The amount of dead muscle and tissue meant surgeons sadly had no choice but to amputate.
Gracie recalls being in so much pain she welcomed the idea as long as it made the pain stop.
Now four years on, she has enrolled to study prosthetics and orthotics at the University of Salford to help others who have also suffered life-altering disabilities.
“By the time they did the amputation, I didn’t really get much notice,” she told the Manchester Evening News .
“They said ‘We’re going to take you to surgery and reconstruct the knee, and if that doesn’t work, we will have to amputate’.
“I was in surgery 30 minutes later – I didn’t really have time to process it.
“When I woke up and they had amputated, I said thank you because I was in so much pain.”
Having previously studied one year of a nursing degree, Gracie said helping others has always been in her nature.
The accident motivated her to leave her job in an office to pursue a career in prosthetics.
She continued: “I enjoyed learning about my prosthetic leg going to appointments, so I thought, why not?
“It’s quite nice putting the limb on a patient, making those adjustments and actually seeing how much better they walk.
“I’m having issues with my leg now which requires surgery, so my mobility is reduced.
“Although I’m still exercising, I’m not so focused on physical goals but more working on my degree.
“It was a hard transition back into education and I did struggle getting into it. But I do feel more organised this year.
Gracie said she found going back into education after 10 years challenging at first, particularly when it came to clinic days which can be physically demanding.
She added: “We are doing more condensed practical days, so most of my days I’m sat around studying and then you go and do a 9am until 6pm on your feet.
“I think most people with two legs would feel knackered after that – so I don’t feel so bad about being tired.
“There are bad days, like when your leg’s rubbing, or it’s around the anniversary of the accident.
“But I just think, well, this is my life now. I’m going to make the best of it, otherwise I’m going to be miserable.
“I like to have goals to work towards and that keeps you in the mindset of doing well and keeping positive.”