Atlanta, Georgia – An Atlanta man’s honeymoon in Hawaii took a tragic turn when he sustained a rare spinal cord injury while surfing, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
Brendan Town was on a two-week honeymoon with his wife, Cho Pak, when the incident occurred during a surfing lesson on September 7. Initially thinking he had pulled a muscle, Town continued surfing, but soon his legs started going numb. Doctors later diagnosed him with surfer’s myelopathy, a non-traumatic spinal cord injury that causes paralysis below the waist.
Surfer’s myelopathy is an extremely rare condition. It occurs when the back is hyperextended, leading to the bending of a blood vessel that supplies the spinal cord, resulting in oxygen deprivation.
Town’s wife created a GoFundMe page to support his medical bills, explaining that the symptoms started as mild discomfort in his lower back, similar to a pinched nerve, but quickly deteriorated to numbness and paralysis in the lower half of his body. After undergoing an angiogram and lumbar drain procedure to reduce swelling, Town was airlifted to Queen’s Hospital, where he received treatment from a knowledgeable neurosurgical team.
While the condition can be permanent, there have been cases where patients have regained the ability to walk within months or even weeks. Town remains hopeful for his recovery and has already started occupational and physical therapy.
He has been able to move himself into a wheelchair and is working on core balance and general care. His goal is to be able to withstand the long flight back home by the end of the week, where he will continue inpatient physical therapy to expedite his healing process and regain the ability to walk. Town’s journey to recovery serves as a reminder of the resilience and determination of individuals facing such challenges.