A group of friends have raised an incredible $100,000 to support their mate who is now paralysed from the chest down after diving into a shallow pool at a Sydney beach.
Haruto Morishita, 22, is described by friends as a keen surfer, skater, photographer, and an all-round “good mate”.
Having moved to Sydney’s northern beaches on a working holiday visa earlier this year, Mr Morishita quickly found his feet in his new city.
It all changed in the blink of an eye when he dived into an ocean pool at Dee Why Beach and struck his head on the bottom on October 27.
Mr Morishita sustained a fracture in his neck vertebrae that “severely damaged” his spinal cord.
“Although conscious, he was unable to move his arms or legs and was transported in a police-escorted ambulance to Royal North Shore Hospital, where he underwent an emergency operation to align and stabilise his broken spine,” friend Tony Fry wrote on his GoFundMe page.
Sharing an update from his hospital bed, Mr Morishita said he was working on his recovery so everyone could meet him as his “recovered self one day”.
“Firstly, I would like to apologise to everyone for causing much worry and concern from an accident that I had brought upon myself,” he said.
“I would also like to express my eternal gratitude to everyone for their overwhelming support, from those that have known me from before and to those that I haven’t had the pleasure to meet yet.
“I will convert all your support into strength and work as hard as I can on my rehabilitation journey. I will work hard every day to be able to meet you all as my recovered self one day.”
The campaign has already raised $99,371 to help ease the cost of what is anticipated to be a “long and expensive” road to recovery.
As Mr Morishita is on a short-stay visa, he can only access limited insurance cover and his loved ones are still unsure how much that is.
Paralysed from the chest down and with difficulty breathing on his own, the young man’s life has changed drastically.
He has now been taken of life support and is able to talk, but Mr Morishita has been told his body will never be the same.
“We’ve been advised that the chances of his body movement returning to what it once was are close to zero, as damaged spinal cord cannot be repaired,” Mr Fry said.
“But our Haruto, despite these traumatic events, is in good spirits. ‘When can I start physio?’ was one of the first things he asked since becoming able to talk.”
Mr Morishita’s parents applied for emergency passports and flew to Sydney as soon as they could but had to return home to get their affairs in order.
“Our family is filled with gratitude for everyone’s heartwarming messages and support,” they shared on the GoFundMe page.
“We will be supporting him in any way we can, so if you could continue to cheer him on, we would be forever grateful.”
Mr Fry thanked the heroic efforts of northern beaches locals on behalf of Mr Morishita and his family after they rushed to the 22-year-old’s aid in the moments after the horrific accident.
“The local northern beaches community who did not think twice about helping our dear friend at the pool,” he said.
He also extended thanks to the paramedics, police, firefighters and the healthcare staff at Royal North Shore Hospital, where Mr Morishita remains in the intensive care unit.