On September 17th my son, Hunter Smith was found unconscious at his home in San Diego, CA.
He was admitted to the intensive care unit of Scripps Mercy Hospital in Chula Vista, where he was intubated and received full life support. Hunter was found to have sustained an anoxic brain injury, the definitive cause of which has not been discovered- COVID, seizure disorder, drugs, cardiovascular disease etc have all been ruled out.
What we do know, is that he rehabilitation and future care is in jeopardy if he remains in the United States.
His current situation
Hunter has since been extubated and does not need supplemental oxygen. He's been removed from intensive care and is now on a regular hospital floor awaiting nursing home placement within the next couple of days. We have been told his diagnosis will be anoxic brain injury encephalopathy. His mental status at present is, at best, minimally conscious.
Intensive rehabilitation efforts in this stage of his injury are paramount for an optimal outcome and his best chances of recovery. We have been told that the services of physical and occupational therapy will most likely be limited to only a few days (two weeks at best) if he remains in the US, after which he will receive basic custodial care, which consists of hourly checks by the nursing staff.
Getting him to Australia
We're currently arranging for Hunter who has dual citizenship to be relocated to a hospital in Australia where he can receive more attentive care and thorough rehabilitative treatment, more than what he is able to receive in the US with his minimal health care coverage. Though the pandemic has made this significantly more difficult and costly, we've been told that Hunter is an excellent candidate for medevac due to his proximity to a major transport hub with direct flight from LAX to Sydney or Brisbane, and his condition being stable enough to place him on a commercial flight with nurse escort.
It's a long journey ahead, but for now, getting him to Australia safely and quickly is our first priority. His loved ones are making great sacrifices to contribute where we can, but we urgently need and humbly request assistance covering the costs of the medevac.
We've been told to expect costs around AU$100,000 (approx US $72,000). This will cover:
- Road transport from Hunter's hospital to the airport
- Passage for Hunter (on a stretcher) and his medical escorts from LAX to Australia (requires booking 3-4 rows of the flight)
- Transport from airport to hospital
- Any quarantine costs incurred by Hunter and his nurses
Our goal is to have raised approximately US $72,000 within 4 weeks
As a young person, Hunter was a very sweet, funny, and caring child. He loved to play games at home with us like Monopoly, Risk, and Ninja Turtles. He loved going to coffeeshops with me and Tricia and we'd grab hot chocolate and walk across the street to the park and play in the afternoons. He loved animals too, and had several growing up, including our beloved family dog, Clover which he helped pick out when he was 14 years old.
As Hunter got older, he struggled a lot, personally, (as many of us do) and had a difficult time assimilating into the real world. He struggled holding on to jobs, sustaining an income and struggled finding places to live. As his father, this was the hardest part for me, to watch someone that I love so much lose his way. There were times though when he seemed a bit better, like in the picture taken here where he and I went deep sea fishing. I wish I could do that right now, just wake up and have all of this be a bad dream. I'd take him fishing, he'd like that.
I understand it's a difficult time to find a way to give to a cause, particularly during these times of covid. But if you are in a place to do so, myself, Tricia, and the rest of our family would greatly appreciate any amount possible.
Stephen & Tricia
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