Andrea Calleja – known in Malta as ‘Batman’ – has launched a new crowdfunding campaign on Zaar to cover the costs of a potentially life-changing procedure.
In October 2022, keen athlete Andrea was seriously injured in The Grid obstacle race competition, resulting in full paralysis and the prospect of the rest of his life confined to a wheelchair.
Channelling his determination to have as normal a life as possible, Andrea still challenges himself with any training session he can. In fact, Andrea’s previous crowdfunding campaign on Zaar last November has already helped Andrea continue his journey to recovery in a rehabilitation hospital in Rome, where he has made progress in his upper body and now has movement in both arms.
Andrea wants to take a literal step further, with new hope to get back on his feet. He learnt of an innovative procedure to stimulate his epidural, which would enable him to move his legs. This next-generation spinal treatment is carried out in Thailand and is hugely expensive – yet, if there is hope, Andrea wants to go for it.
“Upon impact, my body went into shutdown except for my brain, which kept functioning, so I was aware of everything that was happening. I spent over a month in Intensive Care, seeing all those I cared for surrounding me – and I told myself that I can’t give up,” recalls Andrea. “This next treatment is called Epidural Stimulation, a small operation in which a chip is attached to the spinal cord, which transmits electric impulses from signals emitted from the brain to bypass the damaged area and generate movement in the leg.”
Following the procedure, Andrea would need to spend at least seven weeks in hospital to start an aggressive rehabilitation programme. The cost of the procedure alone is €150,000, which does not include flights, visas, medication, transport, as well as lodging for Andrea’s loved ones accompanying him throughout the experience. He hopes – through the generous help of people in Malta and beyond once again – that he can raise the €160,000 goal amount via crowdfunding on Zaar, in time for his scheduled departure for Thailand on 3 November.
“I am determined to take the positives out of what has happened, and I ask for the support of everyone out there to donate as much as they can, to make this dream come true and help me complete this procedure in time to spend Christmas with my family,” says Andrea.