A YOUNG holidaymaker who has awakened from a coma after an insect bite left him fighting for his life has been left paralysed from the neck down.
Sean Foster, 21, was placed on a life support machine in Australia after a finger infection led to a rare nervous disease.
The East Craigs resident regained consciousness last week after being struck down with Guillain-Barre Syndrome – which affects one in 100,000 people – but is still too ill to talk or move.
Today he showed signs of recovery after managing to twitch muscles in his face.
His parents, Ian and June, have flown out to Darwin, in the Northern Territory, to be at his bedside and will remain in Australia for the next three months as their son gets on the road back to fitness.
Meanwhile, an army of Sean’s friends in Edinburgh is rallying behind the family with a string of fundraising events planned to help pay for medical apparatus and cover the cost of his parents’ emergency trip.
The Hibs-daft youngster, who flew to Australia in June for a year-long working break, started feeling unwell four weeks after his arrival and was hospitalised in early July.
Best friend James Guy, 22, said no-one was sure how long Sean’s rehabilitation could last but it is understood victims have taken up to six months to recover. “He’s my best pal and I would do absolutely anything for him and I wish I could be there,” said Mr Guy, who lives in Edinburgh. “The boys he was out in Australia with phone me every time they are at the hospital, and I have spoken to Sean through Facetime on the iPhone.
“He can hear me but can’t react and talk back.
“It always brings me to tears everytime I see him. He’s pretty much 100 per cent paralysed at the minute. He can’t move his mouth or do anything and no-one really knows when he will be on the mend.”
Mr Guy said Sean’s medical insurance will likely pay for treatment while in Australia but he is determined to raise thousands of pounds to help pay for Sean’s rehabilitation.
“It will take a lot of hard work to get him anywhere back to normal,” he said.
“We have set up a fund called the Sean Foster Foundation to cover some of that.
“We also want to give his mum and dad some money to support them while they are out there because they have spent around £6000 just getting over to Australia. They have a three-month open ticket and will be there for at least that time. The hospital has been so good with them and even put them up in nurses quarters for a few days until they got on their feet.”
A sponsored bag-packing day at a local supermarket and race night are among the fundraisers planned while a bank account has been set up to receive donations.
Collection buckets have also been installed in some of Sean’s favourite bars in Corstorphine with more details expected to be released about money-spinning efforts in the coming days.
Last week, the News told how Sean’s friends helped him celebrate his 21st birthday in intensive care – just days after he came round – by pinning up balloons, donning party hats, eating chocolate cake and opening beers at his bedside.