Alex Yaschenko and fellow pilot Carley O'Connell in hospital in Islamabad. Photo: Press handout
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Alex Yaschenko will be on the ‘First plane home’

Wednesday 2 October, 2019

Alex Yaschenko is evacuated from the Hunza Valley after his accident. Video: Kashmir Image News

Injured Australian paraglider pilot Alex Yaschenko is due to be flown home to Melbourne in Australia from Pakistan later this week after a crowd-funding campaign raised more than $120,000AUS to help pay the medical repatriation bill.

Alex, who is one of Australia’s top paraglider pilots, was flying in the Hunza Valley, northern Pakistan, when he had an accident shortly after take off. He was evacuated by air 500km south to hospital in Islamabad.

His injuries have left him paralysed from the waist down with limited movement of his arms. Doctors in Islamabad confirmed a diagnosis of tetraplegia and recommended immediate medical evacuation back to Australia.

However, Alex’s travel and activity insurance did not cover the full cost of medical repatriation back to Melbourne.

As a result, his friends and family launched a crowdfunding appeal to raise the $150,000AUS funding gap.

Some $100,000AUS was raised within the first 24 hours, from about 1,000 contributors, many from within the paragliding community. Unnamed “external benefactors” then stepped in to cover the rest.

According to a statement issued to press on 1 October Alex will now be “on the first available air ambulance flight home”.

The statement added: “[Alex’s] family have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the donors. They said: ‘We cannot believe how quickly and generously the community has rallied behind Alex.

“‘At a time when we are grappling to come to terms with the future, it is incredibly comforting to know so many people are behind us. With so many challenges on the horizon, knowing we can at least get him home is a huge relief.’”

Family spokesman Daniel Arcidiacono said the family was keen to emphasise that the insurer’s incident team at AusAssist, involved in Alex’s care and repatriation, have been “exemplary in their conduct and willingness to help in a very stressful situation”.

He said: “They have gone above and beyond in doing what they can to get Alex home and working with us towards a solution. We would not be in a position to get Alex home in such a short period of time without their generosity. We cannot thank them enough.”

The funds have already allowed Alex’s girlfriend Maggie to fly from Melbourne to Islamabad to be with Alex.

The fundraising total stood at $122,959AUS at midday GMT on Wednesday 2 October. Funds over the repatriation costs will go towards helping Alex’s rehabilitation and long term care.

More info at GoFundMe.

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