British lawyer, 36, is left stranded in Costa Rica with a broken back after she tripped while jogging and can’t afford the surgery she needs to walk again because her insurance ran out
- Charlotte Florence, 36, broke her spine after tripping over in a ‘freak accident’
- Charlotte, from London, has been unable to move or feel her legs since the fall
- She realised her travel insurance expired meaning she cannot afford surgery
- Her return home was delayed amid Covid-19 and her 45-day insurance ran out
- Her friend Celine Sprey said she ‘desperately’ needs the surgery to walk again
A lawyer has been left stranded in Costa Rica after she tripped over and broke her spine in a ‘freak accident’, leaving her completely paralysed from the waist down.
Charlotte Florence, 36, from Hackney, London, has shockingly been unable to move or feel her legs since she fell on her back while walking to the beach on March 4.
But the yoga lover’s nightmare only worsened when she realised her travel insurance had expired, meaning she cannot afford the surgery she ‘desperately needs’ to walk again.
After just four days in hospital and eight screws in the back of her spine during a six-hour surgery, her medical bills have already hit almost £29,000, while a repatriation flight to the UK has been estimated to cost more than £85,000.
Charlotte Florence, 36, (pictured) from Hackney, London, has shockingly been left paralysed from the waist down she fell on her back in a ‘freak accident’ in Costa Rica on March 4
Charlotte’s (pictured in hospital) nightmare worsened when she realised her travel insurance had expired, meaning she cannot afford the surgery she ‘desperately needs’ to walk again
Her friend Celine Sprey has called the ‘freak accident’ the ‘worst-case scenario’, describing paralysis as everyone’s ‘worst nightmare’.
Celine, from Clapham, London, continued: ‘This accident could happen to anyone but you don’t expect it to happen to you.
‘The roads and the streets around here are quite organic. It’s very untouched and there’s only one main road in and out of town.
‘It was a freak accident and she just lost her footing, fell, and landed badly on her back.
‘It’s literally the worst case scenario. The fear of paralysis is everyone’s worst nightmare.’
Charlotte had only planned to stay in Costa Rica for two weeks after arriving in early December, but her return was delayed due to the Covid-19 crisis, and her 45-day insurance cover ran out without her realising.
Nurse Celine has set up a GoFundMe page in the hope of raising enough money to pay for the second spinal surgery in Costa Rica before she can return home.
Charlotte has already had a six-hour surgery on the back of her spine, where eight screws were inserted, while she is now waiting for a second surgery to the front of her spine.
Charlotte (pictured) had only planned to stay in Costa Rica for two weeks, but her return was delayed due to the Covid-19 crisis, and her 45-day insurance ran out without her realising
After four days in hospital and screws in her spine, her bills have hit almost £29,000, while a flight to the UK has been estimated to cost £85,000 (pictured being airlifted to hospital)
Although it has not been specified what type of surgery Charlotte is having, people who break their spine often undergo lumbar fusion surgery, which joins two or more vertebrae to mimic the normal healing process of broken bones.
Specifically, an anterior and posterior lumbar fusion surgery is sometimes done for patients who have fractured or broken their spine, and approaches the spine from the front and the back to provide a high level of spine stability.
Celine has begged for the public’s assistance in helping Charlotte recover from her ‘potentially life-altering injuries’, warning a holiday accident and insurance slip-up ‘could happen to anyone’.
Celine explained: ‘Anyone can have problems with their insurance too. You always get the insurance that your bank offers you, or the cheapest one. Unfortunately we don’t look too much into it.
‘We’re just trying to raise money to have the second surgery and then get her home or get her home and have the second surgery there. We need help.’
Celine said that Charlotte is ‘extremely scared and in a lot of pain’ because without the second surgery to the front of her spine, she will continue to be paralysed.
She continued: ‘She [Charlotte] is extremely scared and in a lot of pain. Without the second surgery to hopefully regain function in her legs, she’ll continue to be paralysed.
‘Hopefully she can come back and surf again and teach yoga again. It’s essential we get her back on her feet, because she’s an extremely active person and she’s got a wicked personality.
Her pal Celine (pictured right with Charlotte) set up a GoFundMe page in the hope of raising enough money to pay for the second spinal surgery in Costa Rica before she can return home
‘We both have busy jobs in London. I’m a nurse and she’s a lawyer so we both came out here to escape and to surf, then because of covid we decided to stay longer.
‘Charlotte was just going down to see what the waves were like when she just lost her footing and landed badly. Luckily she had her phone to message the WhatsApp group for help.’
Legal consultant Charlotte was first sent to a small nearby treatment centre but was later flown to the Costa Rican capital San Jose for her spine-stabilising first surgery.
She was due to fly to Los Angeles, California, for her brother’s birthday the day after the accident, but he flew to meet her in Central America and has stayed to support her ever since.
Charlotte became friends with Celine when they both arrived in Santa Teresa, and Celine said the ‘freak’ accident and the support from strangers has been such an ‘eye-opener’.
Celine continued: ‘It’s been such an eye-opener for everyone. It’s not just like breaking your arm and having it patched up and getting a domestic flight home. It’s really tugged on people’s empathy.
‘Charlotte tears up every time she looks at what’s been donated and she’s been struck by the support so far.’
Celine explained that Charlotte (pictured being airlifted to hospital) is ‘extremely scared and in a lot of pain’ as without the second surgery, she will continue to be paralysed
The fundraising page has already raised more than £72,500 in ten days, but her family hopes to raise as much as possible to guarantee Charlotte can have the second surgery
The fundraising page has already raised more than £77,000 in 15 days, but her family hopes to raise as much as possible to guarantee ‘ray of sunshine’ Charlotte can have the second surgery and return to the UK.
Celine’s GoFundMe post said: ‘Like any of us could have so easily done, Charlie made an honest mistake. She didn’t realise her travel insurance would run out after 45 days. She now finds herself in an unimaginable position.
‘March 9 was her birthday, when she turned 36. She was looking forward to seeing her brother for the first time in two years. Instead they are now meeting in a hospital in San Jose, desperately trying to figure out what to do next.
‘Charlie is an amazing, vibrant person. She’s so loving, caring, happy and positive.
‘She’s always making everyone feel good and she’s an absolute ray of sunshine wherever she goes.
‘She loves to surf, and her goal is to be able to walk again to get back to her happy place – in the water. To be able to surf with her friends. To dance on the beach. To teach yoga.
‘If you’re able to help in any way I know that Charlie would be thankful beyond words.’
To donate to Celine’s page for Charlotte, please visit gofundme.com/f/ngxfb-help-our-charlotte.
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