Scone pub detour costs man his leg

A SHORTCUT home may have cost Gavin Owens his left leg, but the 29-year-old Irish national is determined not to let the decision that changed his life break his spirit.

Mr Owens was walking home from a Scone pub on August 18 when he decided to slip through a hole in the fence and cut across the Hunter railway line, which separates the town, instead of taking the long way around.

The Scone Brumbies rugby union player, who had been celebrating the final game of the season with mates, suffered a broken neck, back and ribs, serious injuries to both legs and lost more than two-thirds of his blood supply when he was struck by a train about 1am.

He has since spent eight weeks in John Hunter Hospital's intensive care unit where he made the agonising decision to allow doctors to amputate his left leg.

"When I woke up [in hospital] I remember the doctor telling me "you have to lose one of your legs and the other one may be lost as well," he said.

"They were looking at cutting the other one because it was badly infected, but it was borderline so they held off and they did a brilliant job in the end when it pulled through."

Mr Owens, a talented prop who played his junior rugby with Munster in Ireland, plans on getting a prosthetic leg and has set himself the goal of walking unassisted by Christmas.

"Even if it's only 20 feet, I want to walk by myself to a table to have Christmas lunch," he said.

Friends and family from his hometown of Cobh, in County Cork, have organised several fund-raisers to help cover the costs of medical care, rehabilitation and prosthetics.

Not to be outdone, Mr Owens's friends and teammates in the Upper Hunter have their own fund-raiser planned - the "Luck of the Irish" Gavin Owens Benefit Family Fun Day - at the Scone Rugby Club at 1pm on Saturday.

The popular Irishman said any excess funds would be donated to the Westpac rescue helicopter service and the hospital's intensive care unit.

"I'm indebted to them, if it wasn't for them I'd be dead," Mr Owens said.

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