Friends and family of Tom Lazarides have launched a fundraising page for the third-year business and management student, who suffered life changing injuries after a swimming pool accident in June 2020. Tom was visiting a friend’s swimming pool during the summer holiday. When diving into the pool, he fractured his neck in two places and sustained a serious spinal cord injury.
The Durham student was airlifted to an intensive care bed King’s College Hospital in London. For many weeks he could breathe only with the assistance of a ventilator. During the summer, Tom contracted rhabdomyolysis, a condition where skeletal muscles break down, which slowed his recovery.
The Hild Bede student is described as a popular young man who loved to play sports. He played county-level cricket, rugby, and was a valued member of Durham University’s golf team. Speaking to Kent Online, his mother, Bridget Lazarides, said “I am incredibly grateful that he is alive and incredibly lucky that he is starting to recover”.
Tom is now able to breathe unaided and no longer needs to wear a neck brace. According to the fundraising pages set up to aid Tom’s recovery, “he now faces the very realistic possibility of being discharged to a care home, with no realistic path to recovery on the NHS, and limited access to physiotherapy”. The family is now looking to move him from Stoke Mandeville hospital, which can only offer four 45-minute physiotherapy sessions a week, which will enable Tom to fulfil his potential.
The GoFundMe page, “A Ton for Tom”, aims to raise £100,000 to fund what is needed to start his recovery. It is projected that a bed at the rehab hospital will cost £10,000 a week and ongoing physiotherapy will cost £3,700 a week. Tom is determined to finish his degree and is planning his long-term future, however, treatment has been dramatically cut due to Covid-19.
Tom’s friends raised £30,000 during the summer, climbing mountains and completing swim challenges in freezing waters. Since 9th November, the GoFundMe has raised over £8,500 from 100 donations, ranging from £5 to £5,000. One donor commented, “I don’t know the man but I felt like I had to help. Hopefully everything starts look- ing up for him. Stay strong!”
Olympic gold medallist Sir Mo Farah sent a video to offer his support: “I know you’re fighting right now, a tough battle but be- lieve in yourself, I know you can win it.” Cricket players including England Captain Joe Root, a vari- ety of Premiership rugby players and Liverpool’s Joe Gomez have all sent Tom video messages.
As well as the GoFundMe Page, Tom’s school and university friends set up “Tom’s Fight” with a series of challenges aimed to fundraise £30,000 over the summer. Their first swim challenge took them from Bradford- on-Avon to Bristol, swimming 36km over two days and raising £19,000. Their second challenge involved climbing Ben Nevis followed by a swim from Fort William to Fort Augustus, through the Caledonian Canal and Lochs, covering over 26 miles through freezing waters. They then returned by canoe and climbed the summit of Nevis again.
One of Tom’s best friends, Will Bryant, is also running a marathon in Florida in March to fund- raise for Tom’s recovery, and has so far raised £2,230 out of his £3,800 target. Tom’s supporters have created an Instagram account to update followers on the developments in his recovery and fundraising.
The GoFundMe page can be found here.
Image via Kent Online