21yo Sidney Dawick walks again after spending lockdown in spinal rehab unit

When New Zealand entered alert level 4 hospitals became completely off-limits to visitors.

Twenty-one-year-old Sidney Dawick had just been told he would never walk again, so during lockdown in Auckland's Spinal Rehab Unit he set out to defy the odds in four short weeks.

It was a late-night swim at Dawick's 21st in mid-January that changed his life.

"I dived head-first in the pool hitting my head on the bottom," he tells Newshub.

"[The] only memory I have is floating face down thinking to myself something's not right here. I've done something pretty bad.

"Only other memory I have is coughing up water after my mates done CPR on me for a minute-and-a-half."

His friends saved his life but permanent damage was done. He was told he'd never move his arms and legs again.

When COVID-19 hit, he still couldn't walk and had to face his new reality alone. At level 4 hospitals were locked down including Auckland's Spinal Rehab Unit.

"It was tough not having family there through that time, a life-changing moment of your life," Dawick says.

But he was determined and once he stood the rest followed.

"A week and a half or two into lockdown I was walking on parallel bars," he says.

Then on day one of level 3, as the restrictions eased, he put one foot in front of the other and greeted his mum and dad at the door of the rehab unit.

Until this moment he'd kept his mission to walk again a secret, wanting to surprise his parents.

His family had no idea what he had achieved.

"I walked out the door and mum and dad crumbled to their knees and so did I," Dawick says.

Defying the odds and the doctors who said it could never happen.

"It was amazing, it was amazing. It was really really good," mum Trish says.

Today he's home at Helensville and can now walk more than 200 metres at a time.

He's not only working towards walking on his own but hoping to finish the last part of his building apprenticeship.

"If you do have a spinal injury, don't give up. It's determination - the mind's pretty powerful," he says.

A new outlook on life for the 21-year-old who entered adulthood facing one of the biggest challenges of them all.