Jason Gall’s inspiring fight

Article from the Men of League Magazine – Issue 69 – December 2017

By Graham Callaghan and Daniel McKenzie

Jason Gall can’t believe how the Tongan side he passionately followed bowed out in the Rugby League World Cup semi-final against England.

The rugby league ‘tragic’, who has been battling every day for 29 months to live the best life possible after surviving sepsis after surfing at Snapper Rocks.

Gall, being supported by Men of League, has no left hand, is a double amputee and receives dialysis for three and a half hours, three times each week.

Karen was sitting in her chair next to Jason, who was on his dialysis machine, watching the frantic last moments of the Tonga-England clash.

“We couldn’t believe it. The ref should have at least gone upstairs to look at it,” said Karen. “Jason played with Harbord Devils juniors with Beaver [Steve Menzies] and [Tongan staff member] Hoppa [John Hopoate]. They were all good mates and would play league in the morning and back up for rugby union in the afternoon.”

Gall still has horrific memories of the day in July 2015 which completely changed his life. He remembers his whirlwind 24 hours which started like any other day.

“I was waiting for the tide to drop at Snapper Rocks so I went and watched my mate attending to his oysters,” recalls the former surfing rising star.

“I cut my finger on a little bit of oyster but I cleaned it out straight away and went surfing. I caught four waves and swallowed some water like I usually do,
but on the fourth wave I felt a cold coming on.

“I decided to head in because I surfed every day so I didn’t want to push myself. I was really cold so I put the heater on in my car but I was still freezing and
just couldn’t get warm. When I got home I lay down and then it really started coming on.”

Karen returned home from work to find her Jason bed-bound with a high fever. “I monitored him during the night and gave him Panadol and Ibuprofen but
when we got up the next morning I couldn’t believe how clear his eyes were – I thought whatever it was had left him,” she said.

Karen said because Jason was deteriorating rapidly she knew something was seriously wrong. By 2.30pm they were in the car racing to the hospital.”

Gall was suffering from fever and confusion and when he arrived at Tweed hospital he threw himself on the tiles to cool himself from severe pins-and needles and burning. He was induced into a coma by 7pm and spent the next five months in hospital.

Jason had both legs amputated below the knee and by the end of August also had his left hand amputated and suffered PTSD from the experience.

He also endured blindness (his sight has returned), psychosis and delirium, a pinky amputation and lifesaving dialysis before arriving home on December 11.

“We raised in excess of $20,000 from a fund raising afternoon at Kirra Beach hotel and this goes towards a custom-made $180,000 hand limb. Former world
surfing champions Occy [Mark Occhilupo and Rabbit [Wayne Batholemew] were there,” said Karen.

“Jason has an exercise psychologist one day each week and is walking 1.8km and has his board in the pool. It gives us both great hope.”

Acting National Wellbeing & Education Manager Mark Bunting organised for Jason to be a special speaker at Leagues Club Australia annual conference
at Southport where he met Kevin Walters and Gorden Tallis.

The Men of League Magazine features members-only, exclusive rugby league articles, wellbeing stories and all things Men of League. Register your interest to become a member today and we’ll be in touch when membership is back on sale in February 2018.

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