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‘I can’t even scratch my nose’: operation dream for rugby player paralysed in stair fall

PUBLISHED: 08:19 02 September 2020

Retired police officer, Simon Dilloway, 64, of North Lopham, who is paralysed and is fundraising for spinal and stem cell treatment. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Retired police officer, Simon Dilloway, 64, of North Lopham, who is paralysed and is fundraising for spinal and stem cell treatment. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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A rugby playing ex-police officer paralysed in a fall down his stairs is hoping a £22,000 operation will end his “humiliation” and give him back some independence.

Retired police officer, Simon Dilloway, 64, of North Lopham, who is paralysed and is fundraising for spinal and stem cell treatment. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYRetired police officer, Simon Dilloway, 64, of North Lopham, who is paralysed and is fundraising for spinal and stem cell treatment. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Simon Dilloway, a former Met police officer, was 61 and looking forward to enjoying his Norfolk retirement when disaster struck in May 2018.

The father-of-two was walking to the bathroom when he fell down a flight of stairs at his then home in South Lopham and woke up paralysed.

More than two years after the accident, which left Mr Dilloway with broken vertebra in his neck and central cord syndrome, he hopes that an operation and stem cell treatment could help return some of his movement and give him a chance of a normal life again.

His family have set up a gofundme page to help raise £22,000.

Mr Dilloway said: “The last thing I remember before the accident was that I was getting ready for bed and walking towards the bathroom. Just past the bathroom door is the top of the stairs.

“The next thing I remember is waking up an hour later at the bottom with my head crushed in the corner and no feeling anywhere. I was absolutely terrified.”

Mr Dilloway had been used to a busy lifestyle, flying around the world as a terrorist finance expert and anti-money laundering specialist, after retiring as a detective sergeant at the Met in 2007.

He also played rugby for the Old Reedonians in Surrey, and the police division, training twice a week for nearly 30 years.

But after 12 weeks in intensive care, followed by many months at Sheffield spinal hospital and rehabilitation, Mr Dilloway returned home wheelchair-bound and in need of 24-hour care.

He said: “I played rugby for 37 years, I weight trained a few days a week, I played golf and I am an internationally renowned terrorist finance expert, working for major organisations. So, I have gone from doing that to being stuck in a chair. It’s a living nightmare.”

The grandfather-of-three, now living with his wife in North Lopham, said the hardest part was the “humiliation”. He said: “You’re trapped inside a body that doesn’t work. I can’t even turn over in bed or scratch my nose.

“But I have spoken to a doctor in Harley Street who thinks there is a reasonable chance of recovery, if they can remove the bone which is digging into my spinal cord and inject my own stem cells to repair the damage.

“It would mean everything to me. If it only means I can get my hands working again, at least I could have some dignity back in terms of being able to feed myself and my own personal care.”


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