Friends of a former Doncaster man lying seriously injured in a Thai hospital are rallying round to pay his massive medical bills.
An appeal has been launched in Bangkok to help ex-serviceman Gerald Mason in his hour of need, following a horrific car crash.
Much of his face has had to be reconstructed because of damage caused in the accident last week, according to reports in English-language newspaper The Phuket News.
The 63-year-old is understood to have lived in Bircotes before retiring around eight years ago to Thailand, where he lives with his girlfriend Tuanjai in the town of Rawai, and is a prominent member of the ex-pat community.
When he moved to Phuket he had a British wife but she died and he has since formed a new relationship.
His friends there arranged for him to be transferred to a more advanced hospital and have already stumped up about £20,000 in medical costs.
Few details are known about the crash on September 10, and friends Paul Dyer, Les Angel and Peter Brain learned the following day that Gerry was in Vachira Hospital.
He suffered serious facial injuries - which have required extensive reconstruction – as well as nerve damage to his right shoulder.
When Paul and Les visited Gerry last weekend, they found his condition had deteriorated, he was having trouble breathing, and there was no room in Vachira’s ICU for him.
“We didn’t think he was going to make it through the night,” Paul said.
The decision was made to move him to a different hospital where there was space in ICU, and only Bangkok Hospital Phuket had the cosmetic facial surgeons able to do the required surgery.
Last Sunday he was transferred to Bangkok Phuket Hospital, but that raised another problem – Gerry’s insurance coverage.
Once he was stabilised at the international hospital, surgery took place to repair his face, including rebuilding his nose, top jaw, and cheekbone and resetting his teeth.
His jaw has been wired together and will remain that way for the next four weeks while it heals.
At this stage he doesn’t have any serious head injuries, and is alert with ‘bright eyes’, friends said, but has limited hand movement and can communicate only via pointing.
“We are past those dark days and he’s in a much better place than he was four or five days ago,” Paul said.
The friends said there was some confusion over Gerry’s insurance. Either he had none, or the type he has does not provide coverage to take care of such massive medical expenses.
Currently his treatment bill at Bangkok Phuket Hospital is more than a million Thai baht, which has been paid by Paul.
“He’s covered until Monday, and hopefully he will be out of ICU by tomorrow and moved to a normal ward. Then there will be another assessment.”
In the meantime, friends have started fundraising, and have contacted the British Embassy to help liaise with family members back in the United Kingdom.
“He’s a very sociable person, and he’s friends with everyone,” Paul said.
Gerry is an active member of a local darts league and officials met last night to discuss possible ways of raising money.
A representative from the Royal British Legion in Pattaya is expected to visit him over the weekend.
A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: “We were made aware of the hospitalisation of a British national, Gerald Mason, in Thailand on September 16. We are providing consular assistance.”