Chris Birch, a former rugby player, claims a stroke in 2005 after a freak accident transformed him into a 'preened man', retrains as a hairdresser
When burly rugby player Chris Birch suffered a stroke during a freak training accident, his family feared it would be a life-changing injury.
Yet while his recovery certainly brought about a transformation, it seems to have been in a way no one could have expected.
Change of heart: Chris Birch, who now lives with his boyfriend, claims that after the accident he hated everything about his old life and started to take more pride in his appearance
For when he regained consciousness, the 26-year-old, who was engaged to his girlfriend, claimed he had become gay.
Birch's astonishing change saw him break up with his fianc �e, ditch his job in a bank to retrain as a hairdresser and lose weight.
He has now moved in with his 19-year-old boyfriend.
The incident The now ex-rugby player had been attempting a back flip in front of friends on a field when he fell down a grass bank, breaking his neck and suffering the stroke.
He was taken to hospital where his fianc �e and family spent days waiting anxiously at his bedside before he delivered the shocking news.
Birch recalled, "I was gay when I woke up and I still am. It sounds strange but when I came round I immediately felt different. I wasn't interested in women any more. I was definitely gay. I had never been attracted to a man before - I'd never even had any gay friends."
He added, "I didn't care about who I was before, I had to be true to my feelings."
Before the accident Birch, of South Wales, had spent his weekends watching sport and drinking with his mates.
Lifestyle changes But he said, "Suddenly, I hated everything about my old life. I didn't get on with my friends, I hated sport and found my job boring. I started to take more pride in my appearance, bleached my hair and started working out. I went from a skinhead to a preened man. People I used to know barely recognised me and with my new look I became even more confident."
Birch sought advice from his neurologist and was told it could all be down to the stroke opening up a different part of his brain.
And Birch has no regrets about his transformation. "I'm nothing like the old Chris now but I wouldn't change a thing," he said.
Stroke Association spokesman Joe Korner said, "During recovery the brain makes new neural connections which can trigger things people weren't aware of, such as accent, language or perhaps a different sexuality."