A London doctor today thanked well-wishers who donated almost £200,000 to cover treatment while he was fighting for his life after being hit by a lorry in Las Vegas.
Dr Sebastian Kola-Bankole, 35, from Camden, told how the money has helped pay for operations on his spine, ears and arteries – as well as a specially-arranged flight back to the UK – to put him on the road to a full recovery.
Thousands of people from all over the world donated to a GoFundMe page set up by his friends after the horrific accident near the Hard Rock Hotel during a holiday in the US six weeks ago.
Speaking to the Standard from the north London rehabilitation unit where he is recovering, Dr Kola-Bankole said: “My best friend Alex told we had the GoFundMe and he told me how much was raised and I just burst into tears because it was so overwhelming.
“He explained what it meant and how it had spread all over the world.
“I just cried tears of joy. I had no idea the world could be so nice.
“I don’t use Twitter, but I heard there was even a hashtag using my name that was trending.”
Dr Kola-Bankole’s rehabilitation is expected to take time but doctors are hopeful of him making a full recovery.
The medical professional, who specialised in sexual health and HIV when he worked at the Royal London Hospital, is now the patient himself and spends two to three hours a day undergoing intensive physiotherapy.
He has two broken ankles, a fractured scapula restricting movement in his arm, and neuropathic pain in his hands due to nerve damage.
He said he regretted not taking out travel insurance before flying out to the US after deciding he could not afford it – and urged others not to make the same mistake.
“I need to tell people don’t be like me,” he said.
“It might seem expensive but it could definitely help in the long run. The costs needed to get me back were astronomical.”
He added: “It could happen to anyone. What I did probably anyone has done. I’m not a person that would normally do such a thing.
“Yes it’s my fault but everyone makes those kinds of mistakes.”
Mr Kola-Bankole, who says he recalls nothing of the crash on February 15, paid tribute to his “amazing” friends and expressed his deep gratitude to all those who contributed to his GoFundMe campaign.
“I’m overwhelmed and completely speechless,” he said.
“All I can say is thank you very much. The generous donations will not go to waste. Every day I’m getting stronger.”
The donation page is still live and people can donate here.