Zsombor Toth’s long battle to recover from a catastrophic head injury suffered during a 2017 vacation in Thailand has ended.
The 27-year-old Langley man died in hospital Sunday, May 6, with his mother, Andrea Czegledi at his side.
Czegledi, a South Surrey resident, said her son had been showing signs of improvement, and she was planning to take him to the beach at White Rock this summer.
“He was getting better,” she said.
He was aware of his surroundings, knew who he was, and was able to respond, sometimes, when his mother talked to him.
“I thought that everything was going to be fine.”
But after surgery in December that implanted a plate in his skull, she said her son’s health began to worsen.
He developed infections, including meningitis, Czegledi said.
“He was coughing up a lot.”
He was suffering seizures and couldn’t keep his food down.
“It was heartbreaking,” she said.
Just days before a neurosurgeon was supposed to remove the plate, her son was rushed to hospital with breathing problems.
When she arrived, the doctor invited her to say goodbye.
“That’s when I realized it was over,” she said.
Czegledi was able to hug and kiss and talk to her son before he passed away.
She did not want him kept alive in so much pain, Czegledi said.
“It was really too much suffering for him. It would be heartless to keep him here just for me. I didn’t want to be selfish”
She was grateful for the months they had together.
“I had a chance to spend time with him for more than a year,” his mother said.
“It was a gift of time. I’m very thankful for that.”
The Langley man spent three months in hospital in Thailand after he suffered critical head injuries while on vacation in the Southeast Asian country.
Toth and a friend from Vancouver had been exploring Thailand together, but the friend had returned to Canada and Toth was on his own when he got on a motorcycle and went for a ride.
With about a week left on his six-week vacation, Toth collided with a car and suffered a severe head injury that left him in a coma.
He was taken to a Neuro Intensive Care Unit in Chiang Mai, Thailand’s northern capital, about three hours away from the scene of the crash, where doctors performed surgery to remove bone shards from his brain.
At the time, the doctors reported Toth’s brain activity was at four per cent and rated his chance of survival at 15 per cent.
After two months in hospital, Toth suffered a setback when he fell out of his hospital bed and suffered a new head injury that required more emergency surgery.
Doctors told his family that Toth suffered severe damage to the portion of his brain that handles memory.
But soon, he was able to open his eyes wide and smile at his mother.
He was strong enough to be transferred back to Canada.
The 14-hour charter flight to Seattle on May 5, followed by a road trip to Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster cost $45,000 — $20,000 of it paid by the medical insurance company and the rest donated by supporters.
The Hungarian-born Toth was a year old when he came to Canada with his family.
At the time of his holiday, Toth was living with his father and worked in his father’s landscaping company.
Pictures on Toth’s Facebook profile show a muscular young man with a broad smile that at least one friend has compared to Tom Cruise.
A celebration of life is planned for this Friday, May 18 at 6:30 p.m. at the Hungarian Cultural Society at 728 Kingsway in Vancouver.
In lieu of flowers or wreaths, the family asks people to make a donation in Zsombor’s name instead to the First Hungarian Presbyterian Church or the Hungarian Cultural Society.