A man from Co Down is facing the possibility that he may never walk again after being involved in a horrific biking accident in Thailand.
Sait Can Ozdemir’s family are now facing a £45,000 bill to get him home for treatment and are asking the public for help.
Sait Can, who moved from Turkey to Ballymartin when he was just a few months old, was in the country as part of a round-the-world trip with friends when tragedy struck.
On Wednesday, the 26-year-old laboratory worker rented bicycles with two friends to explore Chang Mai, a province in the north of the country where they were staying.
Going down a steep hill, Sait Can lost control of his bike and fell into a two-foot ditch.
Luckily, his friends found him seconds after the fall and, miraculously, an ex-paramedic happened to be nearby to deliver first aid.
He had lost consciousness for several minutes and emergency services were promptly called.
Sait Can was transported to Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai hospital, where he underwent a CT Scan, an MRI and several x-rays.
Doctors found he had suffered a broken wrist, a punctured lung, fluid in his lungs and at least one broken vertebrae in his back.
Surgeons said the broken vertebrae had damaged Sait Can’s spinal cord and there is only a small chance he may be able to walk again.
On Saturday, he underwent spinal surgery and surgeons discovered he had broken not one but three vertebrae, almost severing his spinal cord.
Thankfully, doctors were able to stabilise his spine, however it is still unclear if his ability to walk has been saved.
Speaking to Belfast Live, Sait Can’s sister, Vicky, 32, said her brother’s insurance will just about cover his Thai hospital bills, but not the specialist medical transport to get him home.
She said: “When we first heard about the accident, all we wanted to do was get him home.
“But, unfortunately, my brother bought his travel insurance in Turkey and it only covers €30,000 in medical expenses.
“The lowest quote we could get for the proper transport to bring him home was £45,000, so we’re desperately asking if anyone can help, no matter how small, please help us get him home.
“It’s a strange situation to be in, Sait Can is just the most thoughtful guy you could ever meet, he would go out of the way to help anyone and would literally give you the shirt off his back. So we’re hoping people can help him now.”
Vicky and her parents live in Turkey, while Sait Can’s younger brother, Kemal, 23, is in Ireland.
Both brothers studied at Shimna Integrated College in Newcastle and Sait Can went on to study biology at Queen’s.
His mother, who is originally from Co Down, has been able to travel to Thailand to be by her son’s bed.
Speaking from his home in Ballymartin, Kemal said the situation has been much more difficult because of the family’s spread-out geography and how far his brother was away from home when he was injured.
He said: “It’s been absolutely hectic, just trying to co-ordinate everything and get everything organised. Thankfully, family and friends have been incredibly supportive and are doing anything they can to help.
“For me it has been really strange to know my brother is lying in hospital, severely injured and might never walk again.
“Because, you know, he’s my big brother and to me he is invincible. He’s always the one that’s looked out for me and is the strong and brave one, it’s been really hard to comprehend.”
Sait Can’s family have set up a Go Fund Me page in order to raise money to pay for his transport home. To donate, click here .
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