Family members have rushed to Canada to comfort a young New Zealander who broke his neck in a gym trampoline accident.
Ian Simpson, 24, of Tekapo in Canterbury's Mackenzie Country, is recovering in an intensive care unit in Calgary, Alberta, after major surgery on Friday.
His mother Susan, who arrived yesterday with his older brother Angus, was last night asleep at his bedside at the Foothills Medical Centre after the long journey.
A website set up to raise funds to support Ian Simpson and his family through his recovery had raised more than $9000 from 91 supporters last night.
The hospital was not at liberty to provide details of his condition, but fundraising organiser Andrea Seright posted on the Youcaring. com website that he was taken off a ventilator yesterday before being put back on it "for the time being".
Ms Seright said Mr Simpson, whose family are from the Mt Hay sheep station on the eastern shore of Lake Tekapo, suffered the tragic accident on the trampoline while practising "tricks for skiing".
His spinal cord was injured between the C5 and C6 cervical nerves and he was likely to have to stay in the hospital for two to three months.
His father, John Simpson, was reluctant to discuss the case in detail last night as "we are a pretty private sort of a family", but thanked contributors to the appeal.
"We don't know what's in front of us yet, but people have obviously been very generous and we certainly appreciate that - we're very humbled," he told the Herald from Tekapo. He said the accident happened on Friday at a gym where he believed Ms Seright was an instructor.
He confirmed his son had worked in a northwestern Australian mining town and had more recently been doing specialised high-pressure welding in Canada, where he initially travelled as a ski instructor.
Mr Simpson attended Mackenzie College, in Fairlie, before studying at Timaru Boys' High School as a boarder from 2004 to 2007.
A school friend, who lost contact with him after he went overseas three or four years ago, recalled him as "a bit of an adventurer and an extremely talented skier".
Former junior world champion wakeboarder Brad Smeele, who returned to Auckland a year ago after being left a quadriplegic from a double backflip crash in Florida that shattered his C4 neck vertebra, said Mr Simpson would need all the support he could get from friends and family.
Given that Mr Simpson's injury was slightly further down the spine, he expected he would ultimately regain "some sort of functional arm movement" to enable him to move to a manual wheelchair.
"Fundraising is probably the biggest thing his friends and family can do, but for him it's really just about having a positive mindset," Mr Smeele said.
"It's such a life-changing thing. No matter what you did before, you're definitely going to go through those mental struggles of, I guess, the will to carry on.
"The biggest thing is just to stay positive and to know there are some things on the horizon, including possible cures for spinal injury."
Mr Smeele, 28, feared the younger man may not qualify for ACC support, given the length of time he had been overseas, but said he could be assured of high-quality care if he chose to transfer to the Burwood spinal unit in Christchurch.
He said he had made some progress with his own recovery, but it was slow and frustrating, and he was still struggling to regain functional arm movement.
He offered to provide moral support to the Simpson family, and to post a link to the fundraising appeal on his own website.