Perth father-to-be reunites with rescuers after amazing recovery from surfing accident

Felicity and Cian Dobson, of North Beach, with City of Stirling beach inspectors Adam Gugiatti (left) and Jack Gibbs. Photo: David Baylis www.communitypix.com.au d496760
Felicity and Cian Dobson, of North Beach, with City of Stirling beach inspectors Adam Gugiatti (left) and Jack Gibbs. Photo: David Baylis www.communitypix.com.au d496760

WHEN Cian Dobson felt the Trigg surf throw him back-first into the sandy ocean floor, he immediately knew something was wrong.

“My legs just went numb,” he said.

The North Beach resident was surfing with friends at Trigg Beach on October 3, as he did regularly, and called out to one of them for help.

Unable to move, his friends helped him to shore on a board, where he was met by three City of Stirling beach inspectors who leapt to action following protocol for a spinal injury.

“From the beach onwards, all I saw was the sky,” Mr Dobson said.

“I knew that I was paralysed from the waist down.

“I had already resigned myself to life in a wheelchair.”

“I knew that I was paralysed from the waist down.”

Mr Dobson’s pregnant wife Felicity met him at the hospital and said she was also thinking about the future of him paralysed.

“I had the same thoughts of, ‘how is this going to work?’” she said.

But that night Mr Dobson started to regain feeling in his legs; he felt pins and needles in his foot and was able to wiggle his toes.

He improved each day and after one week was moved from the intensive care unit.

Cian and Felicity Dobson with rescuers Jack Gibbs (left) and Adam Gugiatti at Trigg Beach. Photo: David Baylis

Doctors performed a partial discectomy, removing a prolapsed disc in his spine to relieve pressure on nerves, and fused a titanium rod to the top of his lumbar and bottom of his thoracic spine.

Five weeks on, Mr Dobson is walking and slowly being able to regain his movement, and preparing to welcome the couple’s first child, a boy due on Christmas Day.

The couple knows Mr Dobson was incredibly lucky, especially after hospital staff told him he was the third spinal injury they had seen from the same surf spot in two weeks, with the other two suffering quadriplegia and paraplegia.

“It’s great to catch up and just to see the family and people involved.”

They shared their gratitude when they met beach inspectors Adam Gugiatti and Jack Gibbs, who helped with the rescue, for the first time on Friday.

Mr Gugiatti said usually they did not hear how patients fared so the positive outcome reinforced why they did their job.

“It’s always a bonus to get good feedback,” he said.

“It’s great to catch up and just to see the family and people involved.”

Despite their ordeal, Mrs Dobson described the incident as “almost life affirming” thanks to the generosity and support they received, and was thankful her husband would be there to meet their child.

“I just had the most amazing support from every quarter: work, friends and fam, and the community,” she said.