Very lucky to be alive: New Zealand cricket legend Chris Cairns

Canberra: Former New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns, who is recovering from complicated heart surgeries which led to a spinal stroke that paralysed him below the waist, has said that he is “very lucky” to be alive, adding that he doesn’t know what will happen going forward but the only option was to just “keep going”.

The 51-year-old cricketing legend had suffered complications following a major heart surgery in Sydney. Cairns suffered an aortic dissection and had to be operated upon at Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital. During the life-saving emergency heart surgery Cairns underwent, he suffered a stroke in his spine, resulting in paralysis in his legs.

Aortic dissection is a serious medical condition in which a tear happens in the inner layer of the body’s main artery (aorta).

On Saturday, speaking to The Canberra Times, Cairns and wife Melanie opened up about the tough times, with the former all-rounder saying that, “We don’t know what happens going forward. I don’t know if I’ll walk, I don’t know if I’ll stand. But I may stand. I may walk. The only option is to keep going. The thing is I’m not even just lucky to be (alive). I’m very lucky.”

Cairns, who was cleared to start “using his chest and arms for the first time in three months as he continues his recovery” said that he underwent four surgeries to repair the aorta, which led to a spinal stroke that confined him to a wheelchair.

“The amazing thing going through this is just the perseverance to keep going in case it comes back. You’ve got to be prepared,” Cairns said.

Carins’ wife Melanie said, “Chris didn’t just have a stroke one day and (was gone), he had two weeks of being so close to (death). So we start from a place of gratefulness, and every bit we get back after that is just an extra. He’s here, he’s still him. Yes there are physically challenges, but in the gym he said (to the staff) you show me the bar and I’m going to smash it down.

“He’s super motivated to get back out on the tennis court with our daughter, whether that’s running around or in a wheelchair. He’s still going to try to beat her, that’s who he is. That motivation puts him in a really good place to try to tackle something like this.”

The former all-rounder also spoke about New Zealand’s chances in the ICC T20 World Cup final against Australia in the UAE, saying that “New Zealand cricket is very, very healthy”.

“I played with (New Zealand coach) Gary Stead in Canterbury for a decade. He’s one of the unsung heroes. The last two years I mean, you know, New Zealand cricket is very, very healthy.”

Cairns has been posting periodic updates about his health on social media. In one of his earlier posts, Cairns, the son of former New Zealand Test cricketer Lance Cairns, wrote that he was seeking inspiration from an Arthur Ashe quote pinned by his daughter inside the ICU in Sydney during his prolonged stay in hospital.

Cairns has featured in 62 Tests, 215 ODIs and two T20Is for New Zealand between 1989 and 2006. In 2000, he was named as one of five Wisden Cricketers of the Year.


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