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Forced to raise $40K in a few days

More than 1000 people raised over $70,000 for injured acrobat Sam Panda.
More than 1000 people raised over $70,000 for injured acrobat Sam Panda.

AN ACROBAT who broke her neck performing at Queensland property developer Tony Smith's Bali club is on the mend after more than a thousand donors chipped in to pay for the surgery she needed to walk again.

Sam Panda, an American aerialist, broke her neck on October 26 in a sickening fall when the rigging on an apparatus broke at Finn's Beach Club.

Doctors in Bali told Ms Panda her best chance of recovery was elsewhere and advised that she be medically evacuated to another country for surgery.

Tony Smith on the Gold Coast in 2015. Picture Glenn Hampson
Tony Smith on the Gold Coast in 2015. Picture Glenn Hampson

Smith came under fire when he was accused of not paying for his performer's evacuation from Bali, resulting in his beach club being inundated with negative reviews from furious members of the public.

The former AFL footballer and millionaire resort owner is also facing charges of attempted fraud, retaliation against a witness and attempting to pervert the course of justice over an alleged plot to lure an NAB executive to a remote island for interrogation in 2013.

Also charged over the alleged plot was Gold Coast private investigator Mick Featherstone and media identity Andrew Crook.

Ms Panda was forced to raise $40,000 in a matter of days after doctors warned any delays could see her condition deteriorate. Supporters and members of the public outraged at her predicament donated more than $70,000.

Twelve days after her fall, the injured acrobat was flown to Taiwan where she underwent surgery to fix her spine.

More than 1000 people raised over $70,000 for acrobat Sam Panda who broke her neck while performing in Bali.
More than 1000 people raised over $70,000 for acrobat Sam Panda who broke her neck while performing in Bali.

"The surgery was incredibly intense, and required a 36 hour traction period (being bolted down to the bed using screws in the skull), and none of the damaged pieces of bone were able to be saved. We had to get a titanium vertebrae and two artificial discs ordered and brand new from Germany," Ms Panda's friend, Jenna Robinette, wrote in an online post.

"Although she is able to walk with support (amazing!!) she has been suffering from vertigo, related to inner ear damage from the impact, and can't stand on her own just yet. Rehab will likely take some more hard work on Sam's part."

Sam Panda performing at Tony Smith’s Bali resort.
Sam Panda performing at Tony Smith’s Bali resort.

Ms Robinette said $38,000 of the donated money had been spent on her medical evacuation and $23,000 on the surgery and other medical costs.

"The road to recovery finally begins today. I love you all," Ms Panda said upon arriving in Taiwan.

Topics:  broken neck charity crowd funding fraud nab surgery

News Corp Australia


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