Face-saving surgery after horse kick

Date published

08 May 2018

“One of the horses got excited, took off and kicked Natasha in the face,” recalls Collette, Schweikert, Natasha’s mother,“I didn’t actually see it. He came bolting towards me and she was lying on the ground. She can’t actually rememberbeing kicked because it knocked her out.”

Collette went straight over to her daughter, who was starting to regain consciousness.

“She tried to get up but couldn’t,” says Collette. “She stayed face down in the dirt and I noticed a pool of blood by herhead. The horse weighed 500 kilograms and 16 hands high. He had a big kick in him.”

The owner of the property where their horses were boarded phoned the ambulance.

“The ambulance officers put her on a spinal board and took her to Broken Hill Hospital,” says Collette. “The CT scan
showed two fractures to her jaw. She had a laceration on her chin which went through to the bone and her lip was split
right through inside out.” 

Natasha needed to go to Sydney Children’s Hospital so a maxillofacial surgeon could repair the damage to her face. The hospital called in the Flying Doctor and Natasha and her mum were taken by ambulance to the airport.

“While they were completing the paperwork for Natasha’s transfer, my husband was able to grab me a change
of clothes,” says Collette. 

“Natasha was just so amazingly calm. Thankfully, she couldn’t see her face and didn’t know what sort of a mess it was in.She also had two black eyes and a hoof-print on her check. 

“But she was so comfortable on theplane with two doctors and a flight nurse that she fell asleep. By this stage it was well into the night and it was sunrise bythe time we came off the plane.”

From the airport, Natasha was taken by ambulance to the hospital where she went straight into surgery. “Tash was there for a week,” says Collette. “The surgeons did an amazing job – she’s got some scarring, but hardly anything. However, her Christmas dinner had to be pureed for her.

“She’s back on the horse now. She is hesitant, but it was an accident. The horse just happened to kick out as he flew past her.”

“The Flying Doctor team were lovely. They were so calm and that helped me through a long night,” says Collette.“Without that surgery, things would have been very different for Natasha. It’s just so lucky that we have the Flying Doctor.”