Just 3 months ago, Henry Clunies-Ross was hospital-bound with the tough possibility that he might lose his leg. During Round 1 of the Intrust Super Shute Shield, he suffered a nasty gash to his leg which became infected overnight by a flesh-eating bug that threatened his life. Fast forward to today, Henry Clunies-Ross has just completed the City 2 Surf in an incredible 74 minutes to raise money for the hospital that saved his life, the Prince of Wales.
Anyone who has been watching the Intrust Super Shute Shield over the last five years would be familiar with the Clunies-Ross name. Henry, a former Aussie Sevens and NSW Waratahs contracted player has been lighting up the competition up for many years. Fast on his feet, strong and agile, he was named Rookie of the Year in the Intrust Super Shute Shield in 2014 after scoring 14 tries.
The University winger has plied his trade all over the world but this year found himself back at his home club in Camperdown. After a strong pre-season Clunies-Ross started on the wing for the Students in round 1 against Easts.
After making a try-saving tackle late in the game, Clunies-Ross sliced his right shin wide open after sliding over the top of the metal base of the corner post. A freakishly unlucky accident, which would not be encouraged to watch over, saw a large break in play where he was carried off the field on a stretcher and taken straight to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Emergency Department.
Surgeons got to work straight away on cleaning the open flesh wound and over 100 stitches were applied.
After a restless night, Clunies-Ross woke up in a severe daze and admits he was “very hazy” and collapsed in his Randwick home. Luckily for Henry, his girlfriend Jess was on hand to help him in the car and hurry him to the close by Prince of Wales Hospital.
They soon discovered a flesh-eating bug had entered the wound and started to eat away at the tissue in his lower leg, which in medical terms is called ‘necrotising fasciitis’. A rare medical case according to Dr Sean Nicklin, The Head of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the Hospital, who says it’s a case that’s only seen once every four or so years.
The worst possible case was amputation of the leg. Which was hard news for a healthy, active 25-year-old to take in after an insane 48 hour period.
“It was a scary time, I wasn’t sure what the outcome was going to be. I’m so grateful that I had amazing staff looking after me” said Clunies-Ross.
Thankfully after 16 days under the roof of the Prince of Wales Hospital, he was allowed to go home, but there was shy hope for returning to the rugby field that year.
The news that his rugby career could be over just didn’t sit with Henry and after a persistent and dedicated effort during rehab, which was highly praised by the SUFC performance coaches, Clunies-Ross returned to the field, just 3 months after suffering the life-threatening injury.
After a strong performance in the number 13 jersey in second grade last weekend (Saturday 27th August) you couldn’t wipe the smile off his face. Arguably the best on ground in seconds , Clunies-Ross even made a cameo off the pine in first grade.
Speaking with him after the University’s drubbing of Northern Suburbs, you could sense a huge amount of gratitude from the winger, “I’m just happy to be here mate, the team is going so well and what an unbelievable win, it’s so great to be a part of it” said Clunies-Ross.
So inspired by the work of the amazing people at The Prince of Wales hospital, that he decided to run the City 2 Surf to raise money for the Hospital’s Foundation. “They saved my life, I couldn’t be more thankful for the staff there. They are amazing people and to be able to give back to them is the least I can do,” said Clunies-Ross.
It truly is an inspiring and amazing effort to see how far Henry has come since the freakish accident and is a testament to himself and those around him that helped him get back on his feet.
“I’m grateful for what the hospital did for me and I’m inspired by the work of the foundation. I’m looking forward to giving back to those who helped me so much. I’m just so grateful” said Clunies-Ross.
You can still donate to Henry’s cause here – https://city2surf2019.everydayhero.com/au/henry-s-city-2-surf-fundraiser-for-prince-of-wales-hospital