THE tale of a woman whose ribcage was rebuilt after she was accidentally trampled on by a horse has attracted the attention of a magazines in New Zealand and America.

Barbara Schofield was left with a punctured lung and nine broken ribs after falling under 'Figaro' in Willaston after the saddle slipped. 

But thanks to pioneering surgey, her ribcage was repaired and the 52-year-old made it back on the saddle.

Her tale was revealed by the Globe earlier this week and also appeared in the online version of New Zealand's Horse Magazine, the Daily Mirror online and even from Florida.

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Barbara back on the saddle after operation

The damage also caused air and blood to go between her lung and rib cage which was an additional complication.

A surgeon used new titanium technology to rebuild Barbara's ribcage. Only a handful of hospitals in the country use the technique, where titanium plates and screws are used to help mend cracked bones.

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Barbara shows off stitches after the accident

Barbara, from Northwich, is an experienced rider of 20 years and was quick to jump to Figaro's defence.

The four-year-old Dutch gelding - named after the mischievous black and white cat in Walt Disney's Pinocchio - stands at 16.2 hands, or 5ft 5 inches high.

Her experience earned Barbara the nickname 'bionic woman'.

She said: "There was no malice at all from Figaro - it was human error and the saddle slipped around and underneath him - it was just one of those things. I'm really lucky to still be here."

The clinical physiologist was taken by ambulance to the Royal Liverpool University Hospital’s emergency department, where she was immediately cared for by a highly-skilled trauma team and orthopaedic surgeons.

The Synthes Matrix Rib System - developed in Switzerland - uses a series of curved titanium plates around 10-20cms long and 10mm wide.

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X-ray shows Barbara's ribcage after the operation

They are sculpted in a factory and fine-tuned by a surgeon to fit the contours of the patient’s ribs - rather like a Meccano set.

Barbara remained at the Royal’s intensive care unit for seven days.

The trauma collaborative work - across the three hospitals - has led to a reduction in the length of stay a patient requires in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) by more than four days.

Within 10 weeks Barbara, a part-time clinical physiologist in cardiology at Warrington Hospital was back in the saddle for the first time since the accident attempting to regain her confidence.

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Mr Sanjay Kalra, consultant trauma and orthopaedic surgeon

She said: "I’m delighted with the innovative surgery Sanjay Kalra performed- he has worked wonders and I am extremely grateful to him as his expertise has resulted in a much more timely and successful recovery.

"I realised that this surgery was quite novel and I'm lucky to have had this technology and procedure on my doorstep, in Liverpool.

"I am so fortunate to have been dealt with by such a talented surgical team.

"It's been a bit of a joke with friends and colleagues referring to me as 'barbed wire' instead of Barbara and also the 'bionic woman'!

"I've not been through the security body scanners at an airport yet - they will probably never have seen anything quite like it!"

Mr Sanjay Kalra, consultant trauma and orthopaedic surgeon, said: "With this technology the procedure we use not only reduces the risk of complications but encourages a faster return to normal function.

"It is only recommended for patients who have suffered severe chest trauma with multiple broken ribs.

"The results and patient outcomes have been excellent for patients like Barbara at the both the Royal and Aintree hospitals."

Equipment used in the operation to repair Barbara's ribcage

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