A HEARTBROKEN mum has told of how her teenage daughter was left brain-damaged after she fell out of a tree in an Accrington park.
Vanessa Milek, 13, is currently unable to eat, speak or sit up as a result of her injuries.
She was in intensive care for three weeks before being moved to a specialist brain unit last Friday.
The football-mad youngster, a Year 9 pupil at St Christopher's High School, Accrington, was climbing a horse chestnut tree in Milnshaw Park with four of her friends when she lost her footing and fell.
Her friends alerted paramedics and she was rushed to Blackburn Royal Infirmary, where she had emergency surgery to remove her kidney before being transferred to the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital.
Vanessa's mum, Angela, of Westwood Street, Accrington, said she had been keeping a vigil at her daughter's bedside since the accident happened a month ago.
She added that Vanessa, whose father Michele Barbaro had flown over from Italy to see her, had also suffered a fractured skull, broken wrist and damage to her spleen and pancreas, and would need intensive therapy to set her on the road to recovery.
Angela said: "The doctors said she would be brain-damaged and she is going to have to learn how to do everything from scratch.
"At the moment, she can't do anything for herself and she is likely to be in the hospital for several weeks - it could be up to six months.
"But she is able to smile and she is aware of visitors. She is responding well - she can wave at people and can even manage to work her personal stereo, which the doctors said she wouldn't be able to do."
She added that Vanessa, a games form captain at the school, had been sent get-well cards and tapes by her classmates.
She said: "Her eyes light up at the mention of certain people on the tapes, like her best friend, so we know that she is taking in everything that is being said.
"I would really like to thank the school for its support. The staff and pupils have been absolutely fantastic - she has received hundreds of cards. Vanessa is very popular there because she is so outgoing and bubbly."
She added: "I'm hopeful Vanessa is going to make a good recovery and the doctors have said that they are pleased with her progress. She has been so marvellous.
"She may have problems with her short-term memory but she should eventually get her speech back with therapy - so hopefully she will soon be able to have a conversation with me. But I know it is going to be a slow process."