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Local fireman transported to the US for further rehabilitation

Fireman Ta'ita'ifono "Tinei" Igafo is pictured with his mom, aunties, and uncle

Spokane, WASHINGTON — Fireman Ta'ita'ifono "Tinei" Igafo arrived at the St. Lukes Rehabilitation Institute in Spokane, Washington a week ago today — Friday October 16, 2020.

Igafo is one of the survivors of the tragic accident that claimed the lives of two firefighters in the early morning of April 30th, 2020. He has been transported from New Zealand to the United States for further recovery.

After six months of recovery in New Zealand, Igafo was finally able to meet his mother, siblings and close relatives in Spokane, Washington last week.

Since he was medevaced to New Zealand, the strong firefighter underwent an emergency surgery upon his arrival. He had surgery for a Thoracic 4/ Thoracic 5 (T4/T5) Spinal Cord Injury. He was paralyzed from his chest to his lower extremity.

Igafo was rehabilitated for 4 months at the Christchurch Burwood Spinal Unit and was transported to Auckland in September to prepare for his transfer to St. Lukes Rehabilitation Institute in Spokane, Washington. Igafo's spinal specialist prognosis is anticipated for a year or two before any movement or improvement with his mobility.

After his initial admission to the LBJ Medical Center, Igafo's analysis by the LBJ bone specialist was that he is likely to not walk again. However, a major difference was seen when his family members met him in Washington last week where his hands and lower body where moving.

His family considers him a fighter despite his condition.

The family of Igafo is grateful for the prayers of the entire community and is in debt to the healthcare workers, firefighters, friends, and close relatives in New Zealand where he underwent his initial recovery. The family asks of prayers from the community as Igafo is undergoing further treatment and rehabilitation in the mainland, especially in these challenging times.

A statement from the family notes that “although this is a challenging time for our family, we are happy that he is here in person. His journey has just started on the road to a full recovery. He is alive and well and we cannot say thank you enough to the community especially the healthcare workers of the Burwood Spinal Unit in Christchurch, New Zealand where he was constantly visited by local and Polynesian firefighters.

“This kept Tinei close to home. We fought to bring our son to the mainland where there are ample resources that would enable Tinei to recover quickly and efficiently, contrary to the primary arrangement that he’d be transported to American Samoa for recovery.

“Our best hope right now is to get him back on his feet to continue his service to the community, and we can all achieve such aspiration through the Almighty and miracle working God we serve.”

The fire truck that crashed late April this year when it hit the side of the mountain as firefighters were heading on the road down from Afono to Aua after responding to a fire in Afono. Two men died in the crash and Tinei was badly injured.