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Encouraging news from British rugby player James Lasis injured in Nice

Sportsman sends upbeat message to his French rugby ‘family’ from his hospital bed following three months of intensive rehabilitation treatment in the UK

James Lasis in his hospital bed surrounded by his family and their dog Layla Pic: Picture provided by Judy and Karl Lasis

A British rugby player who suffered a life-threatening injury playing for his French club has spoken of the progress he has made since returning to England for treatment at the Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre in The Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital. 

Read more: Paralysed British rugby star will return to France after UK treatment

James Lasis, 26, received a near-fatal neck injury last April during a match for his club Stade Nicois.

Originally from Horsted Keynes in West Sussex, second-row James was nearing the end of a successful first season with third division side Stade Nicois when the accident happened. 

At the 73rd minute, the scrum collapsed on James, leaving him with a life-threatening neck injury that required emergency surgery at the Pasteur Hospital in Nice followed by a long period in intensive care. 

Speaking from his hospital room where he spent Christmas with his family - and beloved dog Layla - James said: “Things are moving in the right direction. After some work from the plastic surgeons my bed sore finally looks to be healing nicely and after further investigation and a change of approach, my breathing is getting stronger.”

For weeks, only able to communicate by winking but can now spend six hours without ventilator

In the weeks after the accident, James was unable to talk or breathe on his own and was only able to communicate by winking. He is now able to breathe for up to six hours on his own, which has allowed him to progress even further with his physical rehabilitation. 

“I can now go for six hours without the vent, I feel nice to have progressed to a good amount of time off the vent, things haven’t moved quite as quickly as I’d hoped but as long as I keep seeing progress I’ve got nothing to complain about. 

“I’ve finally been given the chance to put in some proper work with the physios, doing at least two hours a day. “I’ve been focusing on mobility and trying to wake my muscles up. 

“All in all I’m very glad to be where I am and very thankful for all the wonderful people supporting me!”

At the very centre of James’ support team is his parents Judy and Karl, and elder brother Matt, who flew out to be by his side in Nice in April, only returning to the UK when James was found a bed at the Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital. 

Return home to UK made things simpler for family

For the family, the return home has certainly made things simpler, not least of all the fact that they can now communicate more easily with James’ medical team. 

Judy said: “Matt likes being back with work mates and more importantly his girlfriend Elle. He’s even started getting back to training with his rugby club Hinckley. 

“We love being back in the village with our friends and of course our dog Layla is now back in the centre of the family, even visiting James on Christmas Day! We are able to converse easily with the hospital and James‘ consultant unlike the French hospital.”

‘We miss our adoptive town of Nice!’

However, the whole family miss James’ adoptive town of Nice and hope to return there soon for a visit. “We miss the weather and the sea and scenery, but mostly we miss all the lovely people we got to know and who helped us so much over the five months we were in Nice. We would have come over to visit in December but Omicron got in the way!”

And while James’ plans to return to the region he now considers his home are currently on hold, he still talks to his teammates on a weekly basis and is very much part of Stade Nicois club. 

“James talks to his Nice team mates, past and present, every week,” Judy said. “His consultant, Mr Belci, says he’s always talking on his iPad with someone when he comes in and he’s frequently speaking in French. James uses his French iPad that was given to him by the FFR, he has voice control over all it’s functions now and uses it all day, every day!”

Support from Nice rugby family integral to recovery

The support from his Nice rugby family is integral to his recovery and helps James enormously, Judy said, adding that James has already told his mates he will need “a hand with things like furniture moving” when he eventually returns to the French Riviera. 

A fundraising page for James was set up by Stade Nicois soon after his accident with more than 25,000 euros raised so far towards his medical care. 

If you would like to donate to this fund, please click here.

Alternatively there is a justgiving page which comes under the Matt Hampson Foundation here

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