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Chyone’s brave battle to walk again

Chyone Harris at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital

Chyone Harris fell 25 feet from a balcony on to a pile of rocks and his chances of walking again looked slim.

The 22-year-old aspiring dancer broke his spine and his neck in two places in the accident last April, and doctors were initially unsure whether he would end up paralysed.

Less than six months later, Mr Harris is making an unexpectedly speedy recovery — he is able to stand up, is hoping to walk again and is preparing to leave King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.

After initially being air-evacuated to Lahey Clinic near Boston for emergency treatment, Mr Harris spent months being transferred from one hospital to another undergoing surgeries, rehabilitation and other treatment for resulting health complications.

However, while his recovery is going well, his parents now have to pay $150,000 in medical expenses.

Mr Harris’s mother, Kim Burns, told The Royal Gazette: “The doctor was saying he was uncertain whether Chyone would ever walk again.

“He was supposed to be paralysed for life. He was in a lot of pain — after it happened he was in excruciating pain and had to be sedated a number of times.

“His recovery is good, they are trying to get him to walk. He can stand for a very short period of time because he is still very weak. They have him on a walker but they say it will take him a long time to get strength in his core, hips and back.

“He could come out soon — we are trying to find housing for him and then he will be good to go out of the hospital. Right now he is rehabilitating himself with the physiotherapist and occupational therapist, who have been excellent.

“He is recovering but he is still very weak — they are working on his core and on his hips but he has come a long way.”

On the day of the accident, April 24, Mr Harris had returned to his new residence and was not aware that there were not barriers on the balcony, according to his mother.

After he fell he was air-evacuated to Lahey for surgeries, which included the straightening of his spinal cord and the placement of metal rods in his neck.

He was transferred to Spalding Rehabilitation Hospital but became sick and doctors found fluid around his lungs.

He had to be taken to Massachusetts General Hospital but returned to Spalding to continue his rehabilitation.

Mr Harris came back to Bermuda two weeks ago and his parents are trying to find him accommodation.

He will need to travel overseas for follow-up appointments but the family is hoping for a good recovery.

All of the treatment has racked up a hefty medical bill and his family is hoping that members of the community may be able to help them out financially.

The rehab at Spalding alone was about $4,000 a day and he was there for 3½ months.

The chief of geriatrics at KEMH, Dr David Harries, confirmed that Chyone would require funding “until he has regained his independence”.

Ms Burns said: “I am now dealing with medical expenses. I owe $150,000.

“I am not working as I have been overseas so much. His father is working but it is a lot of money.”

She said her son was a popular waiter at Cambridge Beaches before he had the accident and was selected to take part in a ten-week Skills, Tasks And Results Training scheme run by the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute.

He also had an interest in the performing arts, having been involved with local production company Troika.

In 2011, Mr Harris won a leadership award at the Outstanding Teen Awards.

Judges said: “This young Berkeley student has made a 180º turn in his overall school grades, and has even had the opportunity to make honours.

“This young male has a passion for drama and the arts in general and is continuing to be a shining star.”

Ms Burns said: “Chyone is a bright, young, intelligent man and the guests at the hotel gravitated towards him because he has that gift of the gab — he has that demeanour.

“Everybody loves Chyone. He also does acting with Troika and he is a dancer — he does everything from hip hop to modern.

“He is very determined. He is trying to keep his spirits up but the hospital gets a bit depressing after a while. For him to really get better he needs to come out of the hospital.”