Nathan Burnell and Brooke Pratt.
Nathan Burnell and Brooke Pratt.

Nathan Burnell lucky to be alive

A COAST footballer has been told he is lucky to be alive after the failure of doctors to diagnose a brain haemorrhage during two hospital visits.

Nambour General Hospital says it will launch an investigation into Nathan Burnell's case.

He was discharged twice, once with a diagnosed fractured vertebra and the second time with a concussion, before his partner took him to Brisbane, where it was found he had bleeding on the brain.

The 25-year old is in a stable condition and waiting to hear whether surgery is required at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital following his second head scan yesterday morning.

Mr Burnell, from Mountain Creek, was injured last Saturday during a game of rugby union, playing for the University of the Sunshine Coast club in the reserve grade.

He was taken to Nambour General Hospital twice by ambulance, following the incident and the next day.

Doctors there first diagnosed him with a fractured T12 vertebra and on the second appearance, a concussion.

He was given pain medication.

By Tuesday he was still in excruciating pain and his partner, Brooke Pratt, knew something was still terribly wrong.

She took him to Brisbane, where he had a head scan and the true extent of his injuries were revealed.

He had haemorrhaging of the brain.

"They said, 'thank God you brought him in, you've practically saved his life because he's got bleeding on the brain'," Ms Pratt said.

"Without that diagnosis who knows what would have happened? It could have gotten worse and he wouldn't have woken up one morning.

"This sort of injury is life changing for him, but at the moment it's still a waiting game."

Ms Pratt said before being brought back to the Nambour hospital for a second time on Sunday, her partner was unable to move and had blurry vision.

She said he had had been wandering around the house all night, disorientated and unable to eat.

She also noticed a change in his temperament.

He was kept in hospital overnight on the Sunday and sent home the next day with pain medication and a diagnosis of concussion.

Ms Pratt said Mr Burnell's family had been touched by the show of support from friends on the Coast.

"He's had a lot of people sending in their wishes ... but he's not really able to talk to anyone," she said.

"He's a bit fragile at the moment. It's a bit overwhelming for him."

USC Rugby Union Club senior manager Lee Barrett said the club was doing what it could to help out Mr Burnell financially.

"We're just trying to support him the best we can," he said.

"Insurance will only cover so much. There will be some big medical bills we want to help with."

Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service chief executive Kevin Hegarty said he was determined to have the matter investigated.

"This is the first we have heard of the details that have been provided to the Sunshine Coast Daily," he said.


USC Rugby is helping to raise money for Nathan Burnell. Anyone wanting to donate can do so with the following details, or email




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