ALMOST three months after a road accident left him perilously close to death in Thailand, Warrnambool’s Bryn Murfett is doggedly determined to overcome paralysis.
The 29-year-old, whose list of injuries read like a page from a medical journal, is undergoing intensive rehabilitation in Kew and plans to be home by Christmas.
His family and friends this week formed a committee to launch a 4Bryn appeal, aiming to raise $100,000 for specialised equipment, house alterations and possibly another trip overseas for stem cell treatment.
Technically, he has incomplete paraplegia with a severely damaged spinal cord and is unable to feel from the waist down. His mobility is confined to pushing a wheelchair and exercise routines on a special bicycle with electrodes attached to leg muscles.
But positive signs have given him and his family reason to believe he will walk again.
There have been uncontrolled spasms in his legs, indicating messages are trying to get through from the brain and spine.
“He wants to walk again — he’s very determined and upbeat,” his brother and appeal chairman Rohan Murfett told The Standard.
“Our focus is on him getting the feeling and sensation back in his legs again. There has been amazing support from the south-west community.”
On his Facebook page barely a fortnight after the August smash at Karon, on Phuket’s west coast, Bryn wrote: “It will never cease to amaze me the changes that a split-second decision can impact on paving your path ahead.
“Everyone’s support from such a distance has been overwhelming and extremely comforting, to say the least. I’ve always enjoyed a good challenge, though not being the most desirable of which … I will bounce back.”
His life was plunged into chaos when he decided to hitch an early-morning ride as a pillion on a local motor scooter to fetch supplies from a nearby shop. On the way their vehicle was hit by a tuk tuk taxi.
He was taken to a Phuket hospital, where a team of international-standard surgeons worked quickly to stabilise his deteriorating condition, as his partner Carley Hickman waited anxiously by his bedside.
About three weeks later they were flown to Melbourne’s Austin Hospital for further treatment, before transfer to the rehabilitation centre.
The Thailand visit was meant to be an enjoyable anniversary holiday.
Instead, he was left with a broken spine at two sections, several liver lacerations, broken ribs, life-threatening internal bleeding, a broken nose, bad bruising, skin lost off his arm and face, plus facial injuries which needed 14 stitches around an eye.
He had to undergo three liver operations and his back was cut open for spinal surgery.
Now he has two titanium plates screwed into his spine.
An assessment by the Austin hospital team said “he must have been hit by some force and the truck driver must have been travelling at some speed for a young man to sustain such injuries”.
Amazingly, there is no brain injury.
Unfortunately, there were no repercussions for the tuk tuk driver or motorcyclist, who was discharged after initial hospital treatment. Police allegedly misplaced photographs of the accident scene and the taxi driver refused to apologise.
Ironically, Bryn worked as an occupational health and safety officer.
His support crew includes Carley, Rohan, his sister Alana and parents Bronwen and Murray Murfett.
The Warrnambool appeal will be ramped up, with plans for a major corporate-sponsored event in February.
An account has been set up at the Bank of Melbourne and inquiries can be directed to the Australian Unity office in Liebig Street. Account name: 4BRYN Appeal; BSB 193 879; account number 421940199.