Inspiring and supporting young people seriously injured through sport

BEN LEI'A

Ben was a very promising rugby player with the Marist Club in Samoa. He had recently been selected for the emerging Manu Samoa youth squad. In January 2010, during a training run for an up-coming Marist tour of New Zealand, Ben suffered a horrific neck fracture which left him as a life-long tetraplegic. He has no feeling below his upper chest, and can only move his neck and head. The Samoan Health service is not equipped to take care of a tetraplegic, they have no wheelchair or hospital bed available for him to take home.

He recently had a short time at home, but contracted a severe infection from his catheter insertion and had to return to the hospital. One big danger is bed sores and other infections, with no proper electronic bed for his care, this danger is greatly increased. In the hot climate, once he contracts bed sores, they would be extremely difficult to heal, and can easily become septic. There is no Government or aid money of any kind available for someone in Ben's severe condition. There is no surgery available at this time that can make any appreciable impact on his condition or aid to take him off-shore for rehabilitation.

Ben is a very deserving young man. He has to fight off pits of despair, yet at the same time remains extremely grateful for any help that is given to him. When he was offered to be brought a radio to listen to, he politely declined, saying that he didn't want to be a burden to anyone. The best way we can support him is by helping him return to his family, and have his family equipped to care for him. Ben's family and village are extremely poor, even by Samoan standards. Ben is the oldest of 7 children, and his father earns around $80NZ per week. The family needs assistance to provide housing for his care and rehabilitation.

FOUNDATION'S SUPPORT

Matt heard about Ben through his good friend Freddie Tuilagi who is involved in the UK Marist Trust which was set up to raise funds for Ben here in the UK. The Tuilagi family have been big supporters of Matt ever since his accident in 2005 and on hearing about the plight of young Ben from Freddie and his brothers we wanted to help. In this instance we felt a financial donation was most appropriate and in February 2011, with the Foundation just few weeks old, we made a donation of £2000 to the UK Marist Trust. The money was used for Ben's ongoing care and rehabilitation needs as well as helping with basic living expenses. The Foundation has pledged its ongoing support for Ben and we will keep you up to date on his progress with regular updates on this website.

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