Nathan Heatley

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When a 30th birthday celebration turned into a life-threatening situation for maintenance co-ordinator Nathan Heatley, his wife Michelle knew who to call.

Three years ago, the couple witnessed the extraordinary support given by Miners’ Promise after their good friend Jordan Marriott-Statham died in a work accident at the BHPBIO Port Hedland operations in WA.

“Seeing how Jordan’s wife Kelly was supported by Miners’ Promise in the weeks and months after Jordan died, the difference they made to Kelly who was pregnant at the time with their baby girl…they were there, like a friend,” said Nathan.

Nathan first heard about Miners’ Promise at a Port Hedland safety event, where he met Miners’ Promise founder Helen Fitzroy, but he said it was seeing the way Miners’ Promise had cared for Kelly that most influenced his decision to sign up.

His own personal nightmare began while on leave, enjoying a birthday drink with a few mates in the pretty coastal town of Kiama, about an hour south of Sydney. What started out as a happy occasion to mark an important milestone turned into a race against time to save his life.

Nathan had been sitting on a recessed balcony wall of a first storey building with mate Mitch when suddenly he lost his balance, fell backwards and rolled down a steeply pitched roof before hitting the ground, fracturing his skull and a cheekbone.

“I was on holiday and it was my 30th birthday, I don’t remember anything,” said Nathan.

“I was rushed by ambulance to the nearest airport and air-lifted by chopper to hospital in Sydney where I was put into an induced coma for six days.”

“Because of the swelling on my brain, part of my skull was removed. My wife Michelle was told that I was possibly not going to make it and if I did I could be highly dependent… “By the third week, Michelle was told it was possible that I might make a full recovery and after 5 weeks in hospital I was allowed to go home on the condition that I wore a helmet to protect my skull while it was healing. I had to wear this for an additional 5 weeks after which time I was readmitted to hospital to have the missing part of my skull put back in”.

Nathan’s family and friends told him what happened after the accident because he actually lost about three weeks of memory and he was in intensive care for about a month.

Michelle, who was present at the time of Nathans accident, contacted Miners’ Promise.

Within hours, a Miners’ Promise representative had arrived at the hospital and had commenced organising accommodation and also providing costs towards accommodation for Nathan’s family, who were flying in from Melbourne, Bali and Singapore to be at his bedside.

They also helped with sick leave arrangements – Nathan needed about seven months of rehabilitation – and arranged for pre-paid interstate airfares to and from work to be refunded.

The Miners’ Promise family also launched a fundraising campaign through the Miners’ Promise Facebook page raising approximately $6,000 of financial support for the family.

Nathan has now returned to work and recently went back to his previous position, following his remarkable recovery and determination to get life back on track.

“I wanted to talk about my experience with Miners’ Promise because I think a lot of people would not realise the organisation is there for you out of work as well as in work. I’m incredibly grateful for all the support.”