Paralyzed man finally fits into MRI machine

Health officials have been able to squeeze a Gander man into its largest MRI machine, finally getting him the diagnostic scan he has wanted for almost two months.

Tom Whalen was paralyzed from the waist down after he was struck in the head by a softball in mid-June.

Health officials weeks ago told Whalen, who weighs 275 pounds and has wide shoulders, that the province did not have a magnetic resonance imaging machine large enough to accommodate him.

After Whalen lobbied the government unsuccessfully to cover the MRI outside of province, he was told a new MRI machine in St. Clare's hospital in St. John's would be big enough.

Whalen was booked for an appointment at St. Clare's in St. John's on Tuesday. He said he's glad to finally have the test completed, but it took too long to get the appointment.

"Even though I did get into it, the fight for an open MRI machine in Newfoundland is still in me," said Whalen.

"I will keep pursuing that to the furthest extent that I can".

The MRI results show that Whelan has no spinal cord damage and that his paralysis is temporary.

Doctors say he will walk again, but do not know when. The next step for Whalen is physiotherapy.

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