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UPDATE: Charleston, WV Woman Trying To Move Injured Son Out of Thailand

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Here's the link to the original story:

Man Severs Spine In Thailand

By Gary Harki

Staff writer

Charleston resident Kay Dillon and her son, William Baxter Harrison, are stuck in Thailand.

Harrison severed his spinal cord after falling five stories from an apartment building in Bangkok on April 19. Since then, he has been in a Thai hospital, where his condition continues to worsen, his mother said this week.

"His spinal cord is completely severed. He is in a hospital without an orthopedic specialist," said Dillon, who is with her son in Thailand. "He had to lie flat for two weeks. He was cleared to leave last week, but we have not been able to find an affordable flight."

Her son also needs medical personnel to care for him, Dillon said. The special-needs flight might cost as much as $50,000.

"And the money has to be paid up front," said Dillon, owner of O'Kays restaurant and bar on Leon Sullivan Way.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller's office has worked tirelessly for a week to try to get Harrison and Dillon home, she said.

The day after Harrison's accident, a representative from the U.S. Embassy in Thailand came to his room and spoke to him, Dillon said.

She said Harrison, who was on morphine at the time, told the representative that he wanted to stay in Thailand and didn't want to go home.

"He said he really loved Thailand," Dillon said. "A day later he was saying, 'Mom I've got to get home to the U.S.'"

When Dillon finally made it into Thailand on April 28, she contacted the embassy again.

"They said, 'We can't help you because your son doesn't want to leave Thailand.' ... They said they didn't even know I was in the country, which is insane," she said. "Even Senator Rockefeller's office has talked to them.

"He wants nothing more than to go home."

Rockefeller and those in his office "are actively working to bring both [Dillon] and her son home as quickly as possible," said Rockefeller spokesman Steven Broderick.

Broderick declined to speak about details of the case, including whether Rockefeller's office had contacted the embassy.

"We are working as quickly as we can to get him back here for treatment," Broderick said. "Clearly, the senator's heart breaks for the fact that this mother is in a foreign country and taking care of her son and wants nothing more than to come back to the U.S. We want to make that happen."

Harrison was studying world religion at Assumption University, a Catholic school in Bangkok. He was found by volunteer paramedics after a five-story fall, Dillon said.

Harrison had lived in Thailand for about a year and was dating a girl there, she said.

The details of how Harrison fell will likely remain a mystery, Dillon said.

"At some point, I decided it was best left alone," she said. "In Thailand, the laws are not on the side of foreigners."

Harrison can't remember the two days leading up to the fall, she said. He has developed a fever, accompanied by a severe headache, Dillon said.

When Harrison fell, he was taken to the nearest hospital, which is substandard, Dillon said.

"There are very good hospitals in Thailand. We happen to be in one of the worst," she said. "I've never had a hospital experience like this."

The hospital is unsanitary, with trash all around, she said.

"My son saw a rat run through his room," Dillon said. "He keeps telling me [the hospital staff] are doing the best they can."

A flight was almost worked out Monday but fell through, she said.

"I cried yesterday when I found out we weren't going home," Dillon said, her voice cracking. "But I can't be down. Baxter has been very upbeat. I have to match his enthusiasm. I'm thankful he's alive and that his brain isn't harmed and that he can move his arms."

Wednesday morning, around 2 a.m. Bangkok time, Dillon called and said her son's condition was continuing to worsen.

Last week, both Harrison and Dillon spent their birthdays in the hospital. Dillon turned 52 on Tuesday and Harrison turned 24 on Wednesday.

"I have a strong faith. I know my church is praying for us. People have been so generous," Dillon says, mentioning a recent fundraiser held at O'Kays.

"What's the expression, 'It's darkest before the dawn'? I believe it's dawn right now."


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