Olympian and eight-time world champ ready to take on Tokyo after car accident smashed her breastbone so badly the jagged bones pierced her heart and lungs
- Olympian and eight-time world champion BMX rider was involved in 2017 crash
- Caroline Buchanan, 29, snapped her sternum after an off-road vehicle accident
- She had three open chest surgeries and is now determined to make Tokyo 2020
A BMX rider who was involved in a devastating car accident that almost took her life is training again and preparing to take on the 2020 Olympics.
Caroline Buchanan required three surgeries to piece her sternum back together after the off-road car she was travelling in on New Years Eve 2017 rolled and crushed her.
The 28-year-old two-time Olympian barely survived the accident, which crushed her sternum and sent a piece of bone through her internal organs.
The bone punctured and collapsed both of her lungs and tore at the wall lining of her heart.
Caroline Buchanan required three surgeries to piece her sternum back together after the off-road car she was travelling in on New Years Eve 2017 rolled and crushed her
Ms Buchanan is an Olympian and eight-time BMX world champion
Almost two years on, Buchanan is back on a bike and gearing up for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
She has a metal plate and 12 screws holding her sternum together and acknowledges she is ‘very lucky to be alive’ after a 10-day stint in intensive care, The Daily Telegraph reported.
A scan of the titanium plate in Ms Buchanan’s sternum
‘All up, I had three full sternum reconstructions, 26 bolts, two wire cables, three plates; then they managed to fix my sternum. It was third time lucky. My final surgery fixed it in December of last year.’
Even in the midst of all the health challenges and setbacks, Buchanan had just one thing on her mind.
‘For me, I wasn’t just worried about that surgery – but worried about my future career, to continue to be an Olympian.’
To keep busy while she was recovering, the 29-year-old wrote a children’s book encouraging young girls to be brave, resilient and strong.
The 28-year-old two-time Olympian barely survived the accident, which crushed her sternum and sent a piece of bone through her internal organs
She also raised $76,000 for a scholarship program to further the development of 12 female riders as they gear up to become the next generation of the industry.
In total, she spent about 19 months recovering from the accident, and is only now getting back to where she was in terms of her health and her sporting career.
She has suffered a long road to recovery – the titanium plate originally fixed to her sternum snapped creating complications.
She had open chest surgery to try and correct it, but from there even more complications arose.
The metal bolts fixed to the plate began backing out, leading to another surgery.
In total, she spent about 19 months recovering from the accident, and is only now getting back to where she was in terms of her health and her sporting career
Scans showed the bone beginning to knit together and heal after her third surgery in December 2018.
She would get CAT scans every three months to check how the bone was meshing – a process she compared to watching paint dry.
Getting back to riding and her Olympic goals were foremost on her mind, though she did say the accident has caused her to appreciate the little things more.
Two weeks ago Ms Buchanan competed in her first international BMX race since the crash – gaining a podium place at the Indonesian event.
She now is focused on qualifying for Tokyo 2020 – which she says will be an immense challenge, though for someone who has come this far it does not seem unreachable.
She now is focused on qualifying for Tokyo 2020 – which she says will be an immense challenge but not unreachable for someone that has come this far