NEWS Port Macquarie man who went blind in workplace accident rebuilds his life to help mentor others

Port Macquarie man who went blind in workplace accident rebuilds his life to help mentor others

Macleay Borger laughs as he plays basketball with the boys at a regional high school in NSW.

The students cheered him on, standing by Mr. Borg as he circled the field.

Mr. Borger, 34, became visually impaired after being blinded in a work-related accident nearly 10 years ago.

Mr. Borg lost all vision except for some light perception in one eye.(Provided by: KJ Borger)

He is a student mentor, using his experience to guide and inspire others.

“It’s so rewarding, being able to come here and chat with the boys and learn about all their different stories, their different backgrounds,” Mr Borg said.

“I’m really looking forward to it and being able to pass on the little bit of wisdom that I have.”

A visually impaired man sits on a school playground with a group of young high school boys.
Macleay Borger works as a student tutor at Port Macquarie High School.(ABC Mid North Coast: Emma Siossian)

Blind in a Work Accident

Mr Borger, from Port Macquarie on the NSW mid-north coast, was working at a pub in June 2013 when he made a mistake cleaning a beer line.

As a result, the alkaline solution used in the process was sprayed into his face and eyes.

A young man wearing a hospital gown, his face was a little swollen, and beside him was a woman also wearing a hospital gown.
Macleay Borger prepares for his 10th round of surgery in the hospital in 2013.(Provided by: KJ Borger)

“I was 24 years old, working, playing sports, having fun,” Mr Borg said.

“It was a routine beer line cleaning but I went the wrong way and forgot to depressurize our used kegs… My face and eyes were badly burned by the chemicals.”

“You don’t think a small mistake is going to be catastrophic.

“It’s crazy to think about how important your vision is and how much it can change your life when you lose it.”

physical and mental recovery

Mr Borger spent eight months in a Sydney hospital where he underwent 13 operations.

A visually impaired man high-fives elementary school students on the school basketball court.
Mr. Borg interacted with students at St. Peter’s Primary School, and he also helped coach a basketball team.(ABC Mid North Coast: Emma Siossian)

He recovered, but mental and physical challenges persisted, and in late 2020 he was contacted with a Port Macquarie Lifeline staff member.

He was told about the TAFE NSW Mental Health Peer Work course, which aims for students to support others by applying their lived experience with mental illness and recovery.

“I made the decision that I’m going to do it,” Mr Borg said.

After completing the course, Mr Borger was hired this year as a student tutor at McKillop College in Port Macquarie, while also assisting with teaching at adjoining St Peter’s Primary School.

“Being able to return to work has been good for my recovery and my mental health,” Mr Borg said.

“It’s really great to be able to work with younger kids and it’s fun without the filter.”

Warren Lorger, of Mackillop College, said Mr Borger had developed strong relationships with a group of Year 8 boys.

A blind man stands outside a building with a wooden trophy.
Macleay Borger has been awarded a special TAFE award for his resilience.(Provided by: Macleay Borger)

“Macleay brought his own school experience and the adversity he encountered,” he said.

“They were able to feel comfortable with him and talk to them about the challenges they had.

“Boys also feel a responsibility to take care of Mac [Mr Borger] Getting him where he needs to be and seeing them work together as a small team has been fantastic. “

A visually impaired man sits on a bench with a group of young boys.
Mr. Borger has been helping mentor a group of 8th grade boys as a student mentor.(ABC Mid North Coast: Emma Siossian)

St Peter’s Primary School principal Geoff Leary said Mr Borger was a great role model.

“It’s a great opportunity for our kids to better understand different abilities and appreciate how you can be very, very positive in a very challenging environment,” he said.

A man is sitting on a couch, and two schoolchildren are reading to him on stools.
Elementary students love to read to Mr. Borg and take the time to describe their learning to him.(ABC Mid North Coast: Emma Siossian)

The family walks hand in hand

Mr Borg and his wife Emily had only been together for about six months when he lost his sight.

Emily was 21 at the time.

A man stands next to his wife with three young children, a girl, a boy and a baby boy.
Mr. Borger with his wife Emily and children Frankie, Brooklyn and Archie.(ABC Mid North Coast: Emma Siossian)

The relationship lasted and they are now married with “three beautiful children”, the youngest of whom is just eight months old.

Ms. Borger said being “the eyes of the family” was a learning curve and she was inspired to watch her husband overcome challenges.

“I am amazed by him every day and see how resilient he is,” she said.

“I’m really proud of him and we’re all so lucky to have him.”

A visually impaired man holds a baby and stands next to his wife.
McLeary with his wife Emily and youngest child Frankie.(ABC Mid North Coast: Emma Siossian)

Mr Borg said he was “lucky” to have his wife.

“Emily is happy to be together and to maintain this relationship,” he said.

“We’re able to do things like a normal family with a little twist.”

A man's hand holds a walker, his daughter's hand is wrapped around his.
Mr. Borg’s daughter, Brooklyn, likes to help him on his walks.(ABC Mid North Coast: Emma Siossian)

Related posts

NEWS Jeremy Renner Might Never Walk Again After Horrific Accident?


NEWS After farm accident, Rivian R1T owner warns EV ‘rollover is easier than you think’


NEWS ‘There really was an extra angel in heaven’: Friends remember BYU student killed in pipeline accident