A fundraising drive has been launched to help an Aberdeen cricketer struck down by a rare condition to return home to South Africa.
Solo Nqweni, 26, was playing for Aberdeenshire Cricket Club when he was diagnosed with Guillain Barre syndrome, a serious autoimmune disorder which affects the nervous system. It can cause weakness, numbness and in some cases paralysis, and left Solo unable to walk, talk or swallow.
He was placed in an induced coma after taking ill in July – having initially thought he was suffering from a virus. But he has recovered to the extent he can now fly home to Johannesburg with medical support.
Solo’s medical cover for overseas trips through Cricket South Africa expired just three days before he became unwell.
And even though, as a legal employee, his treatment is covered by the NHS, his travel home with medical support is not – leaving him and his family with a bill of £84,000.
If they cannot reach the total, Solo could face months in hospital before he is well enough to fly home on a commercial flight.
His agent Rob Humphries, who arranged his move to Aberdeenshire through his firm World Sports Xchange, has now launched an appeal to help get Solo home.
Rob said: “It would be phenomenal if we could raise the money we need to get Solo home.
“The care he has received in Aberdeen has been amazing but it would do him so much good to get back to South Africa where he can be near his family.
“At the minute, they are travelling from South Africa on rotation so he always has someone nearby. It would mean everything to him if we could get him home.”
Rob added: “What we really want is to reach people from all over the globe and it would be amazing if we could continue to receive the the volumes of support from the cricket world he has already received.
“Cricket South Africa and the South African Cricket Fraternity at large have been amazing and are looking forward to having him return home.”
The fundraiser has already attracted more than £1,500 in donations since it was set up on Sunday.
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Solo’s story has captured the hearts of the cricketing world and he was visited by England star Ben Stokes last month while the cricketer was in Aberdeen for the Sports Personality of the Year awards.
He also recovered enough of his speech to record a message for his country’s rugby stars as they won the World Cup in November.
And Aberdeenshire Cricket Club captain Kenny Reid says they are all right behind him as he continues his recovery.
Kenny said: “Solo has been through so much, and as a club, we have been doing everything possible to support him and his family.
“Everyone at the club will support him all the way through his journey.
“It would be so important for him to get home and we want to do everything we can to help him.”
To donate to the fundraiser, visit gf.me/v/c/gfm/1oinha0elc