Swimmer Turns Tragic Accident Into Life Opportunity

Remember Daren Choi? A couple of years ago, we told you about the Pearl City High School swimmer who was breaking records and preparing for the 2012 Olympic Trials. That is until he took a scary fall in June 2010 during a hike on a small island in Samoa where he and his Kamehameha Swim Club teammates had just won at the international swim meet.

He explains when hiking with a group of friends, “I lost my grip, fell 15 feet in shallow water, and hit my head on coral. One moment we were having a blast, celebrating our wins at the Samoa Games – and the next moment, I was lying completely paralyzed, face down in the water wondering if I would die.”

He was flown to New Zealand for care. Two weeks after his accident he came to REHAB where he had to re-learn how to do everyday things like feeding himself, brushing his teeth and changing his clothes. He could barely move the left side of his body.

Daren really developed a bond with many of the nurses and therapists at REHAB. They helped him push through both his physical and mental obstacles. Every time he made even the slightest improvement, it gave him the motivation to keep working.

Today, Daren has just returned after his first year of college at the University of Southern Oregon. He plans to get his bachelor’s degree in Pre-Physical Therapy. Daren explains, “My experience really made me appreciate all of the therapists and what they do. I just want to give back and show others how the PT’s and OT’s helped me with my recovery.”

He works out at least 3-4 times a week doing cardio and weight training. He looks up nutrition and exercise tips online and is in better shape now than before he left for college. He isn’t competitively swimming anymore, but he did take a one credit swimming course during his first semester. It’s safe to say that he may have had a slight advantage over the other students in the class. Daren was probably much too humble to show off the full extent of his abilities.

He’s glad to be back home for the summer and looks forward to seeing all of his old friends and coaches again. Although, after only one weekend back, he did comment on how hot and humid Hawaii felt.

It is with your support that we can continue to help patients like Daren. REHAB is more than halfway done with hospital renovations. We are rebuilding REHAB to be the best resource possible for those that have suffered a catastrophic accident or illness in Hawaii. Thank you for your support of this effort. Welcome back Daren!

Click here for Daren’s story back in 2011