In 2013 Mandy was admitted to her local hospital with dehydration, before being transferred to the Northern Hospital in Melbourne with kidney failure, liver failure, toxic shock and septicaemia.
Doctors miraculously managed to save her life, but they couldn’t save her disease-ravaged lower arms and legs, which looked as if they had been dipped in black candle wax.
Surgeons from The Alfred hospital stepped in, and Ms McCracken’s legs were amputated below the knee and her arms were amputated at the elbow.
Mandy McCracken has won her licence to drive again with the help of special controls in the family car. Picture: David Caird
Mandy McCracken in hospital after having her limbs partially removed. Picture: David Caird
“I woke up a couple of weeks later and everything was good because I was alive.
Unfortunately, my husband Rod had to deal with the bit in the middle,” she told the Herald Sun a few months later.
Mandy McCracken soon after returning home, with husband Rod and their dog, Humphrey.
Mr McCracken had even been told at one stage to prepare to lose Mandy, who is the mother of three girls, Samantha, Isobel and Tess, who are now aged 12, 10 and 7.
“At one point we took the girls in to say goodbye,” Mr McCracken said.
“That was the lowest point.”
Even in those early days, Ms McCracken was positive about the future.
“I will be happy just to be able to walk, or even drive a car,” she said back then.
She achieved the first goal in May 2014, when she walked for the first time on prosthetic legs at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
“It feels incredible to be free and mobile again,” she said at the time. “Having new hands has made a huge difference, but my legs will really bring my old self back”.
Mandy with husband Rod and daughters Tess, 5, Isobel, 7 and Samantha, 9 at home.
McMcCracken ticked off her second goal in 2016 when she drove her family’s specially-modified Mazda CX-9.
“I never thought I seriously it would be possible to drive again,” she said. “But we had the steering lightened and a joy stick control from a tabletop computer game installed. I was surprised it was so simple.
“I can’t tell you how excited I was the first time I drove to the supermarket by myself.
“There was a lady there getting annoyed at me for walking so slowly and getting in her way, but she had no idea how happy that trip to buy milk and bread made me,” Ms McCracken said.
In late 2016, this feisty mum achieved one final dream: riding a bike.
Getting a woman with prosthetic arms and legs onto two wheels is no small task — and even experts doubted it was possible.
Mandy on the motor-assisted trike built with the help of Swinburne University engineers. Picture: David Caird
Mandy with “The Makers” from TOM Makathon, Llew Mann, Aileen Magnusson, David Jennings, Nir Nikolaevsky, Andrew Henderson and Will Teare. Picture: David Caird
“I can’t wait for the school holidays when my husband Rod and I can take the kids along the Yarra River. When you have had a near-death experience all you want is the simplest things — cruisy, relaxing family time with everyone together,” Ms McCracken said.
Another achievement Ms McCracken celebrated recently was running on blades with Paralympians.
“It’s been amazing — I’m doing things I never thought possible,” she said. “It sure is great to still be here with Rod and the girls making the most of every day”.
Mandy and Rod McCracken Brochure (163 KB)
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