An exchange student from the United States is stuck in Auckland City Hospital with mounting medical and travel expenses after breaking her back in a "freak" skydiving accident.
University of San Diego molecular biology student Beatriz Martinez-Martin broke her L3 spinal motion segment after a gust of wind caused her and her skydiving instructor to have an "extremely hard" landing on January 10.
It was her first skydive.
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Martinez-Martin had spinal surgery at the hospital on January 21 and cannot yet return to the US due to the intensity of her injuries.
The 19-year-old had been on her first skydive in Auckland, in tandem with a instructor, who was also badly injured.
She spoke to Stuff from her hospital bed this morning about the accident.
"There was a lot of turbulence ... it made the parachute go up and we landed just really hard," Martinez-Martin told Stuff.
"My tandem was screaming. I could tell she was in a lot of pain. I saw people running towards us and I was just like: 'Help me, help me'."
Thankfully Martinez-Martin was not paralysed in the accident, although directly after the impact she thought she was.
Her first thoughts were "I'm paralysed. There's no way I'm not paralysed.
"When I was moving my toes that was just the biggest relief."
Martinez-Martin said a doctor informed her: "You are so lucky so you're not paralysed."
However, after standing up for the first time since the accident only on Saturday, Martinez-Martin faces a lengthy rehabilitation and mounting costs once she returns to the US.
A a friend of Martinez-Martin, Mikayla Hemsley, has set up a Gofundme page to raise money for her travel expenses and "future recovery medical bills".
So far it has raised $7905 with a target of $15,000.
However, the direct hospital costs of surgery and treatment in New Zealand are covered.
For this Martinez-Martin is very grateful.
"The nurses are great. I'm really blessed and really grateful for New Zealand and the way people are here. It's so amazing to me that this is all cared for," she told Stuff.
"This is so great. I want to move here. Everyone's been really nice."
With her parents in the US unable to travel, Martinez-Martin has been leaning on the support of the Kiwi hospital staff, and a University of San Diego dean who has visited her daily.
"I've been pretty alone here, I'm not going to lie."