25 June 2019

Fundraiser launched for leading GP after surfing accident

Education General Practice Social Media

Donations are pouring in to help bring leading GP Professor Chris Del Mar home from hospital after a surfing accident left him with a major spinal cord injury.

Professor Del Mar, aged 70, is not eligible for the NDIS, which cuts off at the age of 65.

The GoFundMe campaign aims to raise $300,000 so that home modifications can be made to allow Professor Del Mar to leave hospital and return home.

“Chris’s equipment needs range from the mundane (e.g. hospital bed), to those which will enable him to participate in life and the community (e.g. powered wheelchair, modified vehicle, and various specialised communication and IT devices),” the fundraiser organisers wrote.

In only a few days, tens of housands of dollars have been donated.

Many colleagues have written tributes to Professor Del Mar on the campaign website.

“Chris embodies what it takes to be a rigorous academic, an advocate for health care that matters, and a really lovely bloke who has always been generous with his time and interesting conversation,” said Dr Justin Coleman, a Brisbane GP.

“To a dear colleague and friend. Look forward to having you back on the Gold Coast,” wrote Dr Nicholas Zwar, the executive dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine at Bond University in Queensland.

In February, Professor Del Mar went for an early morning surf at Miami beach on the Gold Coast – one of his “before-work passions” – when he had a freak accident, the fundraiser organisers wrote.

He was pulled from the sea unconscious and taken to the emergency department.

Professor Del Mar sustained a high-level spinal cord injury, breaking his C1 and C2 vertebrae.

He spent three months in the ICU before being moved to rehabilitation.

Professor Del Mar is a global expert in antibiotic resistance and respiratory viruses and his injury has not kept him from his work.

“His PhD students and postdocs bring their work to his bedside at a Brisbane hospital,” the fundraiser organisers wrote.

“And he plans to be back at work next year, aided by a wheelchair and voice- or eye-activated computer. There are, after all, research projects to oversee, grants to win, and students to mentor.”