LUKE Reinbott has been fighting since he was at death's door four years ago.
Now he needs a hand.
And his late fiancee is playing her part from beyond the grave.
On November 11, 2011, Luke was rushed to Noosa District Hospital from a mate's place unconscious.
What happened is not clear but he had suffered a head injury.
Over the next few hours, his condition deteriorated and he was airlifted to hospital in Brisbane, where he barely clung to life.
For 12 days, his pupils did not respond to light. A nurse put her hand on his mother's shoulder and told her she was sorry.
On the 13th day, his pupils showed a response, and the next day, his eyes moved, giving his family even more hope.
Doctors estimate Luke's brain injury and accompanying stroke wiped 80% of his left brain function.
But thanks to the dedication of his family, who have been working at his rehabilitation since he was in a coma, Luke has been able to fight back.
The former apprentice plumber has learned to crawl and then walk, and is learning to speak and read.
But now Luke, 24, of Cooroibah, faces a new hurdle.
A device inserted into one of his veins to filter a potentially fatal blood clot from reaching his heart while he was bed-ridden has become a time bomb.
His family are trying to raise $130,000 to send him to the United States for surgery that is unavailable in Australia.
Luke's father, Paul, said a previous attempt to remove the device, which was embedded in scar tissue, had been unsuccessful.
Mr Reinbott said the device had twisted, and the "head" was pushing against the Luke's vena cava, a prong had eroded through and was pushing against his aorta, and there was pressure against a vertebrae.
He said Luke was in pain "off the scale" and there was a risk that the filter, if allowed to remain, could fracture and a piece could pierce his heart.
With open abdominal surgery deemed risky, the Reinbotts sought other options and found a surgeon in the United States who uses a combination of endoscopy and laser to remove similar devices.
Fundraising has begun for the $130,000 it is estimated it will cost to get Luke and his family there for him to undergo the surgery.
Money is being raised through a charity which was the dream of Luke's fiancee, Stacey Mowle.
Stacey was at Luke's side during his recovery and rehabilitation but died in 2014 from a longstanding heart condition.
Paul said Luke's injury had been tough on Stacey, who had lost a Luke and gained a new one, but they declared their love for each other even on her last visit.
"At the end of the day, Luke said, 'I love you' to Stacey and she said 'I love you, too, Luke' and I think it was the next week that I got the sad call from her mum," Paul said.
Stacey's mother, Debbie, has carried out her daughter's wish to Smiles of Strength, a charity to help and connect people with health issues.
Luke has become the charity's first major project.
Donations towards Luke's surgery can be made to BSB 014311, account number: 288699534, in the name Smiles of Strength.
Alternatively, donate at the gofundme page.
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