ATLANTA — When Brendan Town left for a relaxing honeymoon to the beautiful islands of Hawaii, little did he know that a freak injury would alter the course of his life.
The Woodstock native and now-Atlanta resident wanted to take up surfing while enjoying the majestic waters and weather the tropical paradise has to offer.
Except days after surfing, Town knew something wasn't right. He began feeling discomfort in his back, before the pain developed into numbness. Before he knew it, Town was suffering from paralysis to the entire lower half of his body, according to his wife's post in an online fundraiser set up.
Town received an MRI and a diagnosis shortly after. It revealed he suffered from Surfer's Myelopathy -- a rare, nontraumatic spinal cord injury which is caused by sustained hyperextension of the back when going from the prone to upright position that happens on a surfboard. The injury almost exclusively happens in inexperienced, first-time surfers.
Town discovered he was paralyzed from the waist down. He was then lifeflighted to Queen's Hospital in Honolulu in meet with a neurosurgeon. His wife said that the injury is so rare, they don't have any standardized treatment options yet.
He first underwent an angiogram and lumbar drain procedure to reduce the swelling in his back right away.
"Brendan Town is a sweet and caring man," his wife wrote on the online fundraiser, describing he moved to Atlanta in his early twenties. "From there he has been a focal point around the restaurant scene as a wonderful local bartender / restaurant operator. You may have seen him behind the stick at some amazing places like Top Flr, The Lawrence, Miracle Bar, Staplehouse, Cold Beer, Holeman & Finch, and more. He has always had a love and compassion for taking care of others and we are so grateful that the wonderful community and friends he's made is now taking care of him."
Atlanta man paralyzed after suffering rare spinal cord injury while surfing
The online fundraiser was set up to help cover medical costs and travel costs of getting Town back home to Atlanta where he can get set up in a good rehab center. His wife, Cho Park, said that costs have amounted to about $25,000 so far but are bound to go up.
In a Sunday update, Town himself update the fundraiser with words of his own. He said that they have a flight leaving Monday and getting into Atlanta on early Tuesday.
"Working hard every day on the Physical Therapy and gaining some sensation in the legs! Still not able to wiggle my little piggies yet, but I’m hopeful."
He is doing While having downtime in the hospital, Town said he has been reading books on how to best prepare for upcoming parenthood with their baby on the way.
"Looking forward to being a dad and giving all of myself to my wife and baby boy. I can’t wait for it. Thanks for everything y’all. Much love and hugs! Cheers!"
If you want to help contribute to Town's medical and travel expenses, you can do so at the online fundraiser here.