Cricket great Chris Cairns 'at peace' with never walking again

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Chris Cairns, pictured here after being left paralysed after a spinal stroke during surgery.
Chris Cairns was left paralysed after a spinal stroke during surgery. Image: Instagram

New Zealand cricket great Chris Cairns has opened up about his recovery from a harrowing health ordeal, admitting he has "made peace" with never being able to walk again.

The 51-year-old was left paralysed after suffering a stroke during life-saving surgery in August.

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The former all-rounder collapsed and was rushed to hospital in Canberra, where he was placed on life support after a tear developed in the lining of a major artery in his heart.

Cairns then underwent four open-heart surgeries after being transferred to Sydney, and suffered a spinal stroke that has left him paralysed from the waist down.

The former Test star has spent the past few months in the rehabilitation unit at the University of Canberra hospital.

While admitting he might never walk again, Cairns said he is just thankful to be alive.

“I don’t know if I will ever walk again and I have made my peace with that,” he told the UK Telegraph on Friday. 

“It is now about understanding I can lead a full and enjoyable life in a wheelchair but at the same time knowing it will be different.

“It has been 14 weeks since I had my injury and it feels like a lifetime when I look back. I have zero recollection of the eight or nine days when I had four open heart surgeries. 

"My wife, Mel, was with me the whole time and I have to refer back to her constantly with regards to what was going on. I was completely out of it.

“I remember dropping kids off at school that morning. But with an aortic dissection you are a functioning time bomb. 

"The tear in your artery is leaking blood and your blood pressure drops. You are in a haze. 

"I remember arriving at the emergency department, vomiting and then they took my blood pressure and rushed me through. 

"They put me upside down to get blood flow down to the brain. Next thing I remember is waking up in Sydney nine days later not knowing what was going on.”

Chris Cairns' glittering cricket career

Cairns lives and works in Canberra with wife Mel and their children, and is CEO of virtual sport company SmartSportz.

Cairns played 62 Tests, 215 one-day internationals and two Twenty20 matches for New Zealand between 1989 and 2006.

He was one of the best all-rounders of his era, especially in the shorter formats.

He amassed more than 3000 runs in Test cricket and close to 5000 in ODIs, while passing the 200-wicket mark in both formats.

Chris Cairns, pictured here at Eden Park ahead of a T20 match in 2006.
Chris Cairns at Eden Park ahead of a T20 match in 2006. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Cairns was named one of Wisden's cricketers of the year in 2000, and awarded the New Zealand order of merit when he retired from Tests in 2004.

He has lived in Canberra for several years after his marriage to Australian Melanie Croser in 2010.

After retiring from international cricket, he was the subject of allegations of match fixing in India as captain of the Chandigarh Lions in the defunct Indian Cricket League (ICL) in 2008.

He denied any wrongdoing and fought several legal battles to clear his name, winning a libel case against former Indian Premier League chairman Lalit Modi in 2012.

In 2015 he was cleared of perjury in relation to the libel case after being charged by Britain's Crown Prosecution Service.

with AAP

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