Worcester Warriors lock Michael Fatialofa is reportedly facing a $NZ200,000 medical bill after spending months in hospital to recover from a broken neck he sustained during a match early this year.
The ex-Hurricanes second rower suffered a C4 vertebrae fracture and spinal contusion during a Premiership clash against Saracens in January, leaving him paralysed from the neck down.
After having spent four months in at the private Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital, Fatialofa is now walking again, but according to a report from The Telegraph, the 27-year-old has been hit with invoices totalling to around £100,000 for his lengthy stay in medical care.
The hefty price tag has overshadowed his miraculous recovery that has inspired friends, family, fans and players from around the globe.
The report states that the first month of his time at Royal Bucks, which cost approximately £36,000, was paid for by Worcester through the Rugby Care insurance scheme.
At that point, Fatialofa was to be transferred to the Stoke Mandeville public hospital, but with no bed available at that facility, he spent the next three months in private care.
The Telegraph reports that the Warriors were told that the remaining medical fees would be covered by by the Clinical Commission Group, which allows National Health Service patients to receive private health care when no public health service is available.
However, Fatialofa has reportedly been sent bills equating to around £100,000 for his stay at Royal Bucks, with one source telling The Telegraph that the New Zealander “has swapped one hell for another”.
Compounding complications is that Fatialofa’s contract with Worcester expired on June 30, while his prearranged contract with a French club has since been cancelled due to his injury.
Furthermore, Fatialofa’s visa is set to expire soon, but he needs to remain in the United Kingdom to receive follow-up treatment from his surgeon before returning to New Zealand.
Funds amounting to over £40,000 ($NZ80,000) have been raised on a Just Giving Page by the Rugby Players’ Association’s Restart Charity, but sources told The Telegraph that Fatialofa is facing fees that are well beyond his financial means.
In addition to the RPA’s fundraising, Fatialofa is reportedly receiving support from he Pacific Rugby Players’ Welfare group and the Worcester Warriors’ backroom staff.
Worcester co-owner Colin Goldring has voiced his backing of Fatialofa, saying the club will do what they can to prevent the 2016 Super Rugby champion from stumping up the six-figure payment.
“He won’t be out of pocket because he is one of our boys,” Goldring said. “We will protect him and look after him.”
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