Critically-injured Whangārei builder Marcel Syron is making slow progress in a Panamanian hospital. Photo / Supplied
A Whangārei yachtie who suffered serious critical spinal injuries in Central America during his sail-around-the-world adventure is making progress with his recovery at a hospital in Panama City.
Marcel Syron was injured while diving in a swimming pool on March 26 as he prepared to sail through the Panama Canal after he had sailed through the Mediterranean, across the Atlantic and around the Caribbean.
He was put in an induced coma while family and friends set up a Givealittle page to raise the $200,000 needed to pay for his immediate costs while in Panama and for his transportation back to New Zealand. They had raised almost $32,000 by mid-morning yesterday.
In an update posted by his sister Donna, she said he was awake, alert and expressive. “He smiled when we walked in. We established he’s not in pain or discomfort. He’s feeling angry and sad, but also understands he’s making huge progress with his recovery now.”
She said to wean him off the respirator, doctors have half off oxygen every four hours to get the muscles in his lungs working again after a two-month rest.
“He is monitored closely when this is happening. He wanted to know when he can talk. Dr told us all when he’s off the respirator completely 72 hours later he can start to retrain his muscles to talk.
“He said he was sorry we had to be in Panama. We asked if he wants music to listen too he said no and Dr said he needs to sleep. We are feeling so happy and positive. Also so much more movement in his left arm, shoulders, head and neck,” she said.
His father Bob Syron, who lives in Whangārei, said there was movement in Marcel’s fingers in both hands but he could move only his left arm.
“My daughters are massaging him like mad but the recovery process is slow and I’d imagine he’ll be there for a few more months. He still can’t talk but is responding to questions through facial expression.”
On the fundraiser, he said his family was unable to raise the required amount, they’d be able to sell one of Marcel Syron’s houses in Whangārei, and hopefully sell his yacht which had been hauled out from Colon where it was anchored, on to a hard stand.
“I don’t think he’ll be in any capacity to sail his yacht any further,” he said.
Syron joined other yachties ashore and left his yacht on anchor. He hit his head on the buttress of the stairs of a swimming pool, broke his back, and damaged his spinal column.
The youngest of five children, he owns the tiny house company Love Shack, which he set up in Whangārei in 2015 to do his bit for the tiny house movement in New Zealand after seeing the trend take off in Europe.
The small, transportable dwellings are custom-built and provide an alternative to unsustainable and unaffordable housing.
A builder for 27 years, Syron is passionate about the environment – another reason he took up tiny house building. He took a sabbatical to sail around the world between 2022 and 2024.