'New blow for All Blacks great's injured son'
By KRISTIAN SOUTH - Sunday News | Sunday, 29 July 2007
Former All Black Grahame Thorne has suffered further heartache with news his son David will never talk again.
Speaking to Sunday News, the 10-test rugby great told how tests on 21-year-old son David had revealed he had dysphasia.
The condition, caused by head injuries, makes the victim unable to speak or understand words.
"It wasn't good news," Thorne said.
"It's like dyslexia but way worse, because the words simply don't come to you.
"It's like living in a washing machine, you can't isolate sounds.
"It also affects your spatial recognition ... like he can't put the square peg in the round hole.
"Unfortunately, this is just what happens when the carotid artery bursts as the result of a head-high tackle."
David suffered severe brain injuries after a head-high tackle in a club rugby game triggered an on-field stroke in May last year.
After the accident, David quickly regained the use of his legs and was able to play the occasional game of golf with his father.
Thorne said the family had been waiting to hear a long-term prognosis of David's condition and news that he would never talk again was shattering.
"It's sad," he said.
"You always live in hope that he will return to living a normal life."
But the former All Black last night vowed not to give up on his son.
"We'll never say never on him," Thorne said.
"If you've got a son in your life you must do everything in your power to get him right again. We will continue to do everything we can to ensure David keeps on the road to recovery."
The tests at Christchurch Hospital also revealed David was suffering from asphyxia - causing him to have sudden and severe fits.
Thorne said David had three fits in the past three months - the most recent and worrying on Tuesday.
"He was in the bathroom and he fell over and whacked his head, so we've just had to have a whole lot more tests done to make sure his pills are getting into the bloodstream."
Thorne and his wife Briony have moved from Nelson - where Thorne is a city councillor - to Christchurch to help David in his battle against the debilitating illnesses brought on by the stroke.
The couple's move from Nelson has sparked heated debate in the media - with many calling for Thorne to resign from the council, claiming he has neglected his duties.
But big-hearted Thorne last night defended the move, saying that his family came first.
"I feel very embarrassed about it but at the end of the day I've got to look after my family.
"It looks likely that I will resign, though."
Thorne was philosophical about the impact rugby had made on his life.
"Rugby giveth and rugby taketh away," he said.
"Rugby took me right around the world and it has also taken one of my sons who lived for rugby."
'All New Zealanders will sympathise and empathise with the Thorne family'.