Paralysed and alone: Family’s plea for visiting rights

 

A young father of two has spoken out about the tough COVID laws after a devastating dirt bike accident two weeks ago left him alone and paralysed in hospital.

Plumber John Hitchens Jnr has spent the past two-and-a-half weeks in a spinal ward at Princess Alexandra Hospital without seeing his two sons because COVID laws bar visitors.

Holding back his emotions, he told of his traumatic past two weeks waking after having major surgery without his wife, Jess, by his bedside.

Logan man John Hitchens, was paralysed two weeks ago, but has been alone in Princess Alexandra Hospital because COVID rules bar visitors.
Logan man John Hitchens, was paralysed two weeks ago, but has been alone in Princess Alexandra Hospital because COVID rules bar visitors.


"I just really need Jess in here with me but we'll get through this one day at a time," he said.

"I'm surrounded by nurses and doctors but I just feel so alone.

"I really want to know how my boys are doing.

"When the accident happened, all I could really say to my mates who were there were to tell Jess and the boys I love them and it'll be okay."

Logan man John Hitchens, known to friends as JJ, just before he left to go on a dirt bike ride in which he ended up being paralysed.
Logan man John Hitchens, known to friends as JJ, just before he left to go on a dirt bike ride in which he ended up being paralysed.


The 30-year-old Logan plumber, known to friends and family as JJ, said he wanted to see his two young sons and his parents.

The young family were camping in bush at Kenilworth when JJ was thrown from his dirt bike and paralysed on August 28.

John Hitchens and his wife and two sons were camping at Kenilwoth when he was thrown from his dirt bike and was flow to hospital.
John Hitchens and his wife and two sons were camping at Kenilwoth when he was thrown from his dirt bike and was flow to hospital.

 

He was with eight mates who were able to use an EPIRB and get him flown.

His father John Hitchens snr, spoke out in support of the strict quarantining rules but said they had a devastating impact.

"We know they are there to protect us but this is a very difficult time - I can only imagine how my son is faring trying to cope with being paraplegic without any of us there," he said.

"It's difficult as I have not seen him for three weeks since the accident and I feel helpless.

"My anger is vented towards those who lied coming back into Queensland after catching coronavirus in Victoria - this has gutted my family."

Mr Hitchens, drove 1240km from his property in north Queensland, to be by his son's bedside but was turned away at the hospital's front door.

He said his son's wife was allowed in to the hospital last week for a few hours, before JJ had major surgery to repair broken bones in his neck.

John and Jess Hitchens.
John and Jess Hitchens.

 

"She said she would even bathe in chlorine if it meant she could get in to see him," Mr Hitchens said.

"We can't even call him as it is difficult for him to pick up the phone without a nurse there to help him."

The family's desperate plea for Jess to be given regular access to her husband was initially rejected by health department and hospital officials.

However, on Monday, nearly three weeks after the accident, she was granted approval to see her husband in the hospital's spinal unit for two hours each day this week.

The PA hospital said it would review the visiting exceptions for his wife next week.

"It's been very traumatic for me and the family," Jess said.

"We have two little boys and we were camping at Kenilworth when it happened and our lives have been turned upside down ever since.

"It's heartbreaking that I can't be there with him as he is completely helpless.

The couple are worried about facing financial hardship now that John cannot work and will be in hospital for six months.
The couple are worried about facing financial hardship now that John cannot work and will be in hospital for six months.

 



"He has his ups and downs but I expect he will be in hospital undergoing rehabilitation for the next six to 12 months and he can't do this without me there."

The young couple, who met through a mutual friend, have been together since 2008 and recently celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary.

They have been living at Chambers Flat with Jess's parents, who are both profoundly deaf, while Jess studies to be a sign language interpreter.

Now they face financial stress as JJ was the family breadwinner.

JJ's former employer, Goanna Plumbing, has set up a GoFundMe page for the young family to help pay medical bills.

Originally published as Paralysed and alone: Family's plea for visiting rights


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