WALKING miracle Lucy Jarvis is determined to make the most of her life, just seven months after it was nearly ripped away in the Manchester Arena blast.
She was just metres from suicide bomber Salman Abedi when he struck, killing 22 people and sending 30 pieces of shrapnel tearing through her body.
Medics worked for 14 hours to save her. Since then has had eight operations taking a total 50 hours.
Lucy, now 18, said: “What’s kept me strong is that I look forward.
"I don’t want to look back at everything bad that’s happened.
“I want to be able to go travelling next year. I’d love to go to Australia then LA, and I want to do a course in prosthetic make-up.
"I’m not going to let this experience change the way I live.”
Lucy, who went to May’s Ariana Grande concert with best friend Amelia Thomlinson, remained conscious in the aftermath of the bombing and is thought to be the only seriously injured victim who can recall every horrifying moment.
She remembers how her and Amelia were heading into the foyer after the gig, hand in hand.
Lucy, from Wigan, said: “Ariana put on such a good show, the atmosphere was electric.
I was pulling Amelia along because she was on the phone to her mum and wasn’t paying attention.
That’s when the bomb went off.
“I was metres from the bomber.
"I was blown backwards on to the floor. The first thing I felt was a lot of heat.
"I thought we’d been set on fire. I had no idea it was a bomb.
"Any closer and I would have been killed.
“I didn’t hear a bang — it was a high-pitched noise, like a microphone squealing.
"My vision kept going in and out. It was smoky and there was fire, ash and debris falling around us.
"The ceiling was coming down.
“I remember Amelia shouting my name. I turned and saw her running back into the arena, so I got up and followed her.
"It felt like it was just me and Amelia. Even though there must have been loads of people running past me, I didn’t see anyone.”
Doctors have told Lucy that with her injuries, she should not have been able to stand, let alone walk.
Yet somehow she managed 15 steps to a platform.
She said: “That’s when I realised I was hurt. I looked down and touched my legs and my hands came away red.
"I kept saying to Amelia, ‘Am I going to die?’ She didn’t know what to do.”
One piece of shrapnel had ripped straight through her.
Another severed the main artery of her right leg.
Arena technicians John Clarkson and Paul Worsley battled to keep Lucy alive.
She said: “They stayed with me, bandaged anything up they could.
"All I wanted was to go to sleep. I had to squeeze their hands to make sure I was still awake.
“My shoes were getting tighter. I kept asking John and Paul if they’d take my shoes off, it was so painful.
"They didn’t, luckily. If they had, I wouldn’t be here because I’d have lost so much blood.”
The ringing in her ears eased during two hours in a makeshift triage area — and she heard the screams and cries of other victims.
She said: “That was really frightening.”
Lucy added: “At first they didn’t know if they would have to amputate my leg.
"I also have wounds on my arms. I had shrapnel in my stomach and bladder.
"One piece scraped my kidney. It took nurses over two hours every other day to change the bandages.
“I had top surgeons, and some of the nurses have become my best friends.
There’s nothing I can do to thank them enough.”
Lucy was in the Salford Royal Hospital for two months.
She said: “I would get night terrors. I’d wake at around 2am, sit bolt upright crying.”
In November she had surgery to fill a hole in her ankle with a graft from her knee.
She said: “If it doesn’t heal, it will have to be fused.
"It will mean I can’t walk normally.
"I’m on a rounders team and really enjoy it. I won’t be able to do it any more.
"I hope it works. It would be amazing to walk unaided by spring.”
'We feared the worst'
LUCY’S mum Kath and dad David were at home when they got the phone call every parent dreads.
As their injured daughter struggled to stay conscious, a concerned stranger had taken her phone from her bag and rang to tell them what had happened.
Kath, 55, a housing director, said: “It was complete and utter panic. Just terror. Complete fear. It’s your worst nightmare.”
She and David, 54, raced to Manchester. He said: “I must have broken every speed limit and ran every red light.”
Approaching the Arena, many roads were sealed off, but it was hours before the couple learned it had been a bomb. David said:
“We didn’t know for certain it was a terrorist attack, it was chaos. No one knew what was happening.”
Eventually they tracked Lucy down to a hospital but could not see her and feared the worst. Kath said: “I cannot tell you how awful that feels. I said to Dave, ‘They won’t take us to her, she must be dead’.
“I was hysterical at this point, but then a nurse found her in A&E.”
David added: “They rushed her into theatre and told us she had internal injuries. We only had 20 seconds with her. We told her we loved her and she said it back to us.
“We lived in fear for ten days. We didn’t know if she was going to make it.
“I remember saying to the doctors, ‘Whatever you have to do, just keep her alive’. One said that in all his years, he’s never met anyone as brave as Lucy.
“He said, ‘I’ve seen grown men scream and cry for their mothers and all Lucy did was say thank you every single step of the way.
We were astounded at how she just got on with it’.
“We say she’s the luckiest unlucky person, because nothing struck her major organs, face or head. If she was smaller, it would have been a different story.”
The couple have been by Lucy’s side constantly since she was injured. David even quit his job as a project manager.
Kath added: “After the fourth operation, there was a change in attitude. They knew she was going to live. We’ve had lots of dark periods Now we can see light at the end of the tunnel.”
David added: “Our hope for her future is that she can go back to how she was before this happened.
“Life is to be experienced and to be enjoyed. Lucy is an inspirational example of that. She’s not letting it spoil her life.”
Lucy, who has been supported by the We Love Manchester emergency fund, said: “I don’t think of myself as brave.
"Before this I thought I was a wimp. I am a normal girl who has been through a terrible experience.
“The advice I would give to others is, ‘Move on by doing normal things. Even if you’re scared, you can’t hide’.”
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