Friends of a Coconut Grove hairdresser who was seriously injured in Bali are coming to her aid to help pay medical bills.
BY JON SILMAN, Jsilman@MiamiHerald.com
Zena Friedman, 63, was visiting Bali with her sister Chere. Hours before the trip home — on Sept. 27 — she was hit by a taxi, suffering a multitude of life-threatening injuries.
Her friends back at home rallied to help her with medical bills because her insurance does not cover her overseas, and the hospitals only take cash up front, her friends said. They started a Facebook page called Zena’s Recovery where people can read updates and donate to her cause.
“I heard when Chere called me hysterical when she was in the hospital with Zena,” said Chris Horne, a long-time friend who is handling the donations, “I thought she was going to die, absolutely.”
Friedman lives in Miami Beach and works at M Salon in Coconut Grove. She’s been a hairdresser for more than 40 years, and she’s had some of her clients for at least that long.
“She was loved and all her clients are very concerned,” said Michael Carrato, owner of M Salon. “The phone’s been ringing all day long, people asking what they can do. They’re both very loving spiritual people.”
In her spare time, Friedman liked to give back. She has worked with the special Olympics, and with battered women for an organization called Safespace foundation, where she served as a board member. She’s also a member of the non profit organization Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, where according to Home, she did makeup and hair for burn victims.
According to friends, this is what happened:
Inspired by the book Eat Pray Love, the sisters wanted to visit the real-life shaman that inspired the author. They’d been planning the trip for months. To afford it, they used American Airlines miles for the trip.
On the day of the sister’s return to the states, they decided to have breakfast at the hotel and relax, and shop. They were crossing the street in a little alleyway — Friedman was in front — when a speeding taxi struck her and she dropped. Sister Chere got knocked over as well. The taxi driver got out of the vehicle with the initial intention of putting her in the cab, but he noticed she wasn’t breathing, so he sped off.
There was a witness but they didn’t get the license plate, and the sisters did not get travel insurance beforehand. The hit fractured 11 of Friedman’s ribs, one of which punctured her lungs. She suffered a concussion in her brain; a broken back; a broken jaw; a broken shoulder; a broken arm and lots of internal bleeding.
“One of dental implants is lodged in her sinus cavities,” said Tracey Auspitz, an old family friend fighting to help the stranded sisters. “But that’s something that’s going to have to wait.”
An ambulance transported Friedman to a hospital in Bali where doctors operated, inserting a chest tube to draw out fluid and removing her spleen. Friends scrambled to raise $8,000 to pay for it. The doctors decided she needed to be evac’ed to Malaysia, another $30,000, and an additional $3,000 just to get her into the ICU at the Sime Darby Medical Center, where she is awaiting more surgery.
“Here in the states she would be set,” Horne said,” but it’s not like they have money, and now their credit cards are getting maxed out.”
Friends hope Zena will stabilize enough to be transported back home, but there are worries.
“I can’t even fathom what it’s going to cost to get her back to the states,” Auspitz said.
According to Horne, Friedman knows she’s in Malaysia and she knows she’s in pain, but she initially didn’t remember anything that happened. Now, however, she’s aware of her plight and her sister is by her side, regularly posting pictures and updates about her condition on Facebook.
According to Auspitz, the latest news is that the injuries were so severe that they weren’t able to perform the surgery without additional medical supplies being overnighted from another country.
“Her arm is so damaged that the surgery needed to be postponed,” Auspitz said.
While Zena is awaiting surgery, M Salon is donating proceeds from services to help with her medical costs.
They were always just giving to people,” Carrato said, “If someone didn’t have something they would just give it to them.”
“What we can do from this side of the world is so limited,” Auspitz said, “but we can raise funds to help pay for these life saving surgeries.”
For more information on Friedman’s plight or to donate visit the “ZENA Friedman Medical FUND” page on Facebook.