Gemma Quinn, who was paralysed in car accident as a child, spending what was meant to be trip of a lifetime in hotel room after ‘catalogue of errors’ meant back of her wheelchair was lost during flight.
A paralysed woman has been left stranded in Singapore after part for her wheelchair dissapeared while travelling with Emirates from Manchester Airport.
Gemma Quinn, 35, who was paralysed from the neck down in a car accident in 1992, and later made headlines due to a letter she sent to Superman actor Christopher Reeve, had booked a 19-day trip of a lifetime across Asia with her two carers at a cost of more than £15,000.
But she is spending her holiday, and Christmas, in a hotel room in Singapore after a “catalogue of errors” meant the back of her custom-made wheelchair was lost during the first leg of her trip, rendering it unusable. Ms Quinn, who is an experienced traveller, flew from Manchester Airport to Dubai on 23 December with Emirates before arriving in Singapore on Christmas Eve, but is now unable to leave her bed or complete the next two stops on her country-hopping trip.
“This was meant to be a holiday of a lifetime which is now turned into a living nightmare,” she said.
“I have always tried to live a normal and active life as possible, travel always comes with its difficulties, but I have never been made to feel as disabled as I do now.”
The 35-year-old made headlines as a child when she wrote a heartfelt letter to Superman actor Christopher Reeve after he was paralysed from the neck down in a horse-riding accident in 1995. After encouraging the late actor to not give up in the face of his diagnosis, Ms Quinn – just 10 years old at the time – met Princess Diana, who subsequently wrote a letter to the International Spinal Research Trust commending her courage.
In the letter, Diana wrote: “To any parent, the thought of their child suffering a serious spinal injury is truly frightening. I therefore find Gemma’s example of hope and courage all the more inspiring.”
Without the specially-moulded back of the chair, Ms Quinn was carried through Dubai Airport in a stretcher in order to make her connecting flight. She had been “degraded” by the experience with Emirates after she was informed the back of her chair had been lost after her first flight.
“It was an absolutely mortifying experience. I kept telling all the staff that if they couldn’t find the missing back off my chair then there was no point in me continuing my trip,” she said.
“I got the feeling that they just wanted me off the aircraft. I eventually very reluctantly agreed to be stretchered to my connecting flight on the promise that they would be working on a solution by the time I landed in Singapore.”
Ms Quinn added the vital part of the custom-chair, which cost several thousand pounds, had not been recovered, and was not even registered as lost by Emirates until she got to Singapore.
The 35-year-old was set to be travelling to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to celebrate the New Year before travelling to a beach resort in the country – but this is now unlikely given the custom-built nature of Ms Quinn’s chair.
Ms Quinn added: “By the time I landed in Singapore nothing had been done, the only thing they did put a pillow on the back of my chair held in place with two aeroplane seat belts, I told them how unsafe this was for me but they shrugged it off.