Tweed Heads sepsis sufferer raising funds for bionic hand

Jason Gall (centre) with surf legends Mark Occhilupo (left) and Wayne 'Rabbit' Bartholomew at his fundraising event
Jason Gall (centre) with surf legends Mark Occhilupo (left) and Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Bartholomew at his fundraising event.

A TWEED man battling the devastating effects of sepsis has embarked on a major fundraising drive to raise money for a bionic hand.

Forty-three-year-old Jason Gall contracted the disease in 2015 after swallowing water whilst out surfing. The horrific aftermath saw Gall have both legs amputated, have his left hand amputated and two fingers from his right hand. He also suffers kidney failure and undergoes dialysis.

A successful fundraising event took place on Saturday, October 28 at the Kirra Beach Hotel, which saw a number of members of the local community attend in support of Mr Gall, who used to be an avid surfer as well as an accomplished rugby league player in Sydney in his teams.

“It was an amazing day,” Gall’s partner and full-time carer Karen Fursman told The Weekly, “with a full cross-section of people including tradies, labourers, beauticians, surfers, rugby league players, people from Melbourne and Sydney. It was just beautiful they all turned up to support him.”

Gold Coast Titans and State of Origin rugby league star Nathan Peats was due to put in an appearance but could not make it due to cancelled flights. However, Fursman said that the Men of League organisation had been a major source of support.

The event – and ongoing crowd-funding campaign – aims to provide Gall with a bionic hand for his left arm, that will allow him to achieve more independence.

“It’s called a myoelectric hand,” said Ms Fursman, “and it will be specifically designed for him, so that of course causes the cost to go high.

“We’re just starting the process of getting the money together to make that happen.”

Sepsis is the result of a massive reaction to a bacterial infection that gets into the blood and can lead to organ failure, injury and amputation. According to the Australian Sepsis Network, sepsis affects 15,000 Australians annually.

Gall and Fursman will also soon start the process of looking into kidney transplants.

“He’s on dialysis three times a week and that’s one of the hardest things to deal with because it weakens the body,” says Ms Fursman.

“He can be doing really well during the day and then he’ll get really weak and has to sit down and rest.

“And he also has no real body thermostat left and gets really overheated. So we’re looking at getting an ice vest for him to bring his core temperature back down when it gets super hot in summer.

To donate to Mr Gall’s cause, visit Gall and Fursman have also set up a trust fund that donations can be paid into, details for that are: BSB 032 563, Account 442 407.