Jill Dodds, 47, from Morpeth, Northumberland, has been living in Thailand for around six years and was enjoying an end-of-term celebration when she decided to take a picture on a balcony on 18 December.
The teacher lent on the balcony fence while taking the picture, but it gave way and she dropped 20 feet, sustaining serious spinal injuries.
Another person involved in the incident sustained a broken collar bone.
One of Jill’s vertebrae was crushed while another was fractured, leaving her with no movement in her legs and no use of her hands and fingers, which means she needs full-time care.
Doctors don’t know if there will be long-term damage
Jill’s sister, Katie Breeze, 39, said she felt "numb" after hearing the news, with the situation made more difficult by Jill being so far away.
Explaining what happened to her sister, Katie said: "It was an end-of-term party through the day, and at about 2pm they were taking pictures.
"As they lent on the fence, the fence gave way, another person fell and broke her collarbone and Jill was seriously hurt. She fell about 20 feet down damaging two of her vertebrae. One was crushed and one was fractured.
"She has no mobility from the waist down, no feeling in her legs, she can’t use her hands, she can’t move her wrists.
"She can’t hold anything, she has to be spoon-fed and she needs a straw to drink but she can talk and move her head."
Katie said Jill had an operation where metal rods were inserted to take some of the pressure off her nerves, but doctors don’t know if there will be any long-term damage at the moment.
“We were initially told it would take two years before she would be walking again but we just don’t know,” Katie said.
Katie said the teacher had hoped to move back to the UK but that was delayed because of Covid.
She added: "We were told after her operation she would need to be in hospital for at least two weeks and it would be six weeks until she would be fit to travel."
An update on Wednesday on a fundraising page for Jill said she was recovering after her operation and she has had “some sensations in her legs” and a little more control over her arm movements.
Fundraising page launched
Her family is now trying to raise as much money as possible to be able to get Jill back to the North East as soon as she is able to travel.
A friend of the family, Leigh Hawkes, has set up a Go Fund Me page on behalf of Jill’s sisters Katie and Nicola.
Almost £15,000 has been raised so far, with the money raised going towards hospital bills and getting Jill home.
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