Rugby hero’s mir­a­cle sur­vival af­ter freak ac­ci­dent

The bro­ken leg was hor­rific enough, but there was much worse to come.

Herald on Sunday - - THIS WEEK - By Kelly Dennett

AHeart­land rugby star has sur­vived a brush with death af­ter an on-field in­jury led to a series of “freak” med­i­cal com­pli­ca­tions.

Thames Val­ley player Hay­den An­der­son, 21, is now awake and speak­ing with fam­ily and friends af­ter spend­ing a week in crit­i­cal care hooked up to life sup­port.

An­der­son was ad­mit­ted to Waikato Hos­pi­tal on Septem­ber 16 af­ter break­ing his leg just min­utes into a Heart­land Cham­pi­onship clash be­tween Thames Val­ley and Buller in Paeroa. He was booked for surgery on a bro­ken tibia and fibia.

Given the se­ri­ous­ness of the break, the match was held up for about one hour while his leg was sta­bilised be­fore he was taken to hos­pi­tal.

New Zea­land Rugby Foun­da­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Lisa Kingi-Bon said that af­ter his admission to hos­pi­tal An­der­son suf­fered a fat em­bolism — a com­pli­ca­tion where fat, some­times from bone mar­row, leaks into the blood sys­tem. In rare cases it can cause res­pi­ra­tory prob­lems and lead to a coma, or death.

To com­pound mat­ters An­der­son was struck by an un­re­lated lung in­fec­tion, and his con­di­tion be­came crit­i­cal.

Three days af­ter be­ing ad­mit­ted to hos­pi­tal, the young rugby player was placed on life sup­port.

“It was just a com­pletely freak sit­u­a­tion,” Kingi-Bon told the Her­ald on Sun­day. “It was a freak de­vel­op­ment. Just out of left field.

“It’s been very touch and go.” An­der­son spent a week in the in­ten­sive care unit be­fore “turn­ing a cor­ner” and be­ing trans­ferred to the high de­pen­dency unit last week.

On Thurs­day he was again trans­ferred, to the or­thopaedic ward, and was awake and talk­ing to fam­ily who had flown in from Perth.

The foun­da­tion sup­ports cat­a­stroph­i­cally in­jured play­ers and has been help­ing An­der­son’s fam­ily.

“It was very scary for all of them,” Kingi-Bon said.

Fam­ily de­clined to speak but told the foun­da­tion that they had had to ex­plain to An­der­son what had hap­pened to him.

On Thurs­day he was able to play cards with his fam­ily, and on Fri­day he posted a video of his ca­reer high­lights to Face­book, prompt­ing well wishes from his sup­port­ers.

An­der­son plays club rugby for Te Puke but was picked up by Thames Val­ley as a loan player for the Heart­land Cham­pi­onship.

He had just re­turned to New Zea­land af­ter a stint with the Aus­tralia Un­der-20s and Perth Spirit, and last year was named for the Chiefs de­vel­op­ment squad.

Given his age and how fit An­der­son was, his con­di­tion had shocked ev­ery­one, Kingi-Bon said.

“Ev­ery­one was ex­tremely wor­ried, but there’s just a great out­come and we’re just re­ally re­lieved and re­ally de­lighted that he’s turned a cor­ner firmly. I’ve never seen any­thing like it in the five years I’ve been with the foun­da­tion.”

He had a long road of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion ahead of him and would spend the fore­see­able fu­ture — at least some weeks — in hos­pi­tal re­cu­per­at­ing.

Te Puke coach Craig Jef­fries, who is a fre­quent vis­i­tor to An­der­son’s bed­side, said he was a “much loved” mem­ber of the rugby com­mu­nity.

“His in­jury and his bat­tle had a mas­sive ef­fect on all of us. We are so re­lieved that he is re­cov­er­ing well. He’s a tough bug­ger.”

Thames Val­ley Rugby Union’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Ed­mond Leahy said: “Ev­ery­one who knows Hay­den from Thames Val­ley has been con­cerned about his con­di­tion and wish him a swift and suc­cess­ful re­cov­ery.”

Bay of Plenty Times

Hay­den An­der­son.

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