British gap year student paralysed after bison attack in US

·3-min read
Mia is recovering in a US hospital (GoFundMe)
Mia is recovering in a US hospital (GoFundMe)

A British gap year student has been left paralysed with a severe injury to her leg after she was attacked by a bison during a roadtrip of America.

Mia Dean, 19, from Surrey, is recovering in hospital after the bison “suddenly charged at her” on the second day of her month-long road trip of the United States, accroding to a Gofundme page set up by her parents.

She was walking on a trail through Custer State Park in South Dakota with a friend and their dog before the animal “gorged her in the left thigh with his his horn”.

She was thrown “head over heels” about 10 feet in the air.

When the teenager hit the ground she was “trapped, unable to move her bleeding leg, with the bison huffing directly over her, his feet by her head for some time,” the page said.

“I remember feeling the pressure on my hip, my hip being pushed back, and I remember the sensation of flying in the air and going head over heels,” Dean told KOTA-TV.

“The bison stuck around and his hoofs were right over my head. It’s a miracle I even lived until the ambulance got there, let alone kept my life and my leg,” she said.

The animal continued to stand near her for some time before Mia’s friend managed to lead him away.

Mia’s family said it was a “miracle” she is still alive, but she is suffering from a severed femoral artery and severe damage to both her tibial and peroneal nerves.

Mia Dean,19, had saved up to travel across America for a month (GoFundMe)
Mia Dean,19, had saved up to travel across America for a month (GoFundMe)

As the artery and muscle damage is healing, Mia is still suffering from severe nerve pain, numbness and hypersensitivity, paralysis and limited mobility below the knee, being unable to walk without walking aids, the page said.

“I have basically no movement in my foot. I can’t walk without a walker or crutches. I can’t walk very far, about 20 metres, and I’m done for a long time,” she told KOTA-TV.

Her family believe for her to “have a chance at regaining full motion” of her foot she needs a highly complex operation that cannot be carried out by staff at Rapid City Hospital. Because it is unsafe for Mia to fly to another hospital, a specialist will have to come to her.

“Mia is English and whilst her travel insurance has paid so far for the femoral artery bypass they are refusing to pay for even the initial examination by the specialist of her nerve injury,” said the Gofundme page.

“Mayo clinic, a world-class hospital in the peripheral nerve field (a very niche field), has accepted Mia as a referral from Rapid City Hospital.”

The family is hoping to raise £140,000 to cover the initial assessments from a specialist - which cost around $8,000 - and possible surgery at the clinic, as well as flights home, food, accommodation and other expenses.

Before the accident Mia had been accepted to University of Edinburgh,  where she was expected to start in September.

The teenager had taken a year off studies to work and save up enough money to travel.

“She has been incredibly strong throughout this whole process, coming close to death, continuing to suffer now and yet still remaining positive,” her family said.

“We have no idea why this happened to our little girl, and simply wish for her to be able to walk and dance again and live her life to the full, without chronic long-term pain.”

More than £16,500 had been raised on the Gofundme page at the time of writing.

Despite the ordeal, Mia remains positive.

“I hope this doesn’t discourage people from travelling. Travel and explore and have fun,” she told KOTA-TV.

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