A young Australian soldier, who was terribly wounded in Afghanistan, has revealed the astonishing story of how he survived.
Curtis McGrath fought against shock, blood loss and agonising pain, knowing that his life depended on it.
At just 24-years-old, the combat engineer is now confined to a wheelchair, after one wrong move ensured he'd never take his own steps again.
"I'd already searched the ground that I was about to walk on, and I'd missed one [an improvised explosive device], and stepped on it,” Curtis said.
On August 23 this year, Curtis endured a moment he will never forget, but one he is lucky to remember.
"I opened my eyes, it was dark, I'm on my back, there's lots of dust falling and it's extremely silent. Deadly silent.”
"I sat up, a little bit on my elbows and looked down and my legs were gone.”
His comrades rushed to help, but Sapper McGrath was the specialist medic, and he had to talk them through his own first aid.
"I told them I was going into shock, started breathing extremely fast, and I said 'I'm going into shock guys, you need to get an IV into me now, hurry up, hurry up, hurry up!"
Eventually a chopper arrived, and Curtis was stretchered in and stabilized after being saved by mates he'll never forget.
He says the first few seconds were absolutely crucial.
“Another 30 seconds without those tourniquets on and I was dead."
A fundraiser is underway, with $54,000 raised so far, and joining the anonymous donors are those mates still on duty in Afghanistan.
It's a rare insight into the toll from IEDs, which account for one third of Australian deaths and two thirds of our injuries.
Despite all the trauma he's endured, Sapper McGrath says his belief in Australia's mission in Afghanistan hasn't been shaken, but says it has been strengthened.
This comes from a man who was still at school when the war began 11 years ago.
"Yes we are doing the right thing, we are making a difference in a place that needs it."For more information on how you can help donate, visit Sapper Curtis McGrath's Fundraising Page.
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