Hollis Hawthorne has been in a hospital bed in India, barely moving, slowly starting to show signs of consciousness.
Around her and around the world, family and friends have spent the past few weeks scrambling, struggling with red tape and limited funds, to get her to Stanford Hospital.
Hawthorne, a 31-year-old San Franciscan originally from Nashville, Tenn., was severely injured in a motorcycle accident Feb. 24 in India and has since been in a coma. Family members and her boyfriend who are with her in India say she's breathing on her own, is beginning to open her eyes and move her hands.
Stanford Hospital has offered financial assistance, and fundraisers have been held across the country to raise money to fly her back to the Bay Area.
After setback upon setback, Hawthorne was expected to arrive in San Francisco on Monday.
In pictures gathered on the blogs her friends have set up, Hawthorne's curly blond hair spills down from messy ponytails or beneath offbeat hats. Hawthorne worked for the Burning Man festival and helped found a San Francisco bicycling dance team called The Derailleurs.
Her friend and roommate Eliza Strack described Hawthorne as a woman who loves healthy eating and yoga, a perfectionist who asks for push-ups when dancers are late to Derailleurs practice, and a person who is "enthralled by all the little details."
"She is always coming up with ideas, always scheming for a way to make a new piece of art," Strack said.
Hawthorne went to India to celebrate her birthday, find a yogi and travel the country on motorcycle with her boyfriend, Harrison Richards Bartlett, Strack said. On Feb. 24, about a week into her monthlong trip, Hawthorne and Richards Bartlett were riding motorcycles near Pondicherry when the accident happened.
It's not clear exactly what happened, Strack said. Another motorcycle and a bus were involved in the collision that left Hawthorne unconscious and bleeding on the road. She was wearing a helmet, but the handlebars of her motorcycle had smashed through the helmet visor. Richards Bartlett was riding up ahead and was not hurt in the incident.
The others involved in the accident fled, Richards Bartlett wrote in an e-mail posted on a "Friends of Hollis" blog. He described spending a half-hour stranded on the side of a bridge, performing CPR. A van of German tourists finally pulled over, and they made it to a hospital.
Hawthorne had damage to her brainstem and was in a coma.
"Please keep her in your thoughts and send her all of the energy and magic and love and prayers and anything you got," Richards Bartlett wrote in the e-mail. "The next week is critical and she could perish or come out at any moment."
Since then, Hawthorne has begun to recover. Her respirator was removed, her eyes are opening, and she can squeeze other people's hands. Her mother and aunt joined Richards Bartlett in India.
Hawthorne doesn't have medical insurance, but Richards Bartlett's mother, Karen Richards, had friends connected to Stanford Hospital. Hospital representatives have offered to take Hawthorne as a charity case.
"The hope is that when they get to Stanford we can get a clearer idea of how this particular injury can be treated, and this treatment can start," Richards said.
They've been working with Stanford Hospital's Barbara Ralston, vice president of Guest Services and International Medical Services, whose office helps coordinate medical efforts overseas. Ralston described Hawthorne's case as "heart-rending,"
"When we get a call like that," she said, "it's exactly what we're always ramped up for."
Getting Hawthorne to Stanford has proved to be, as Harrison Richards describes on the blog, "a coordination nightmare."
They were going to take her back to the U.S. by air ambulance, but as her condition improved they hoped buying a section of a commercial flight would be cheaper. It's a plan filled with difficult logistics, as they worked to get visas for doctors to accompany her and tried to find a plane equipped to carry a stretcher.
Her family will have some help when they get back, too. Strack has been leading an immense fundraising effort to pay for travel expenses and Hawthorne's care, and as of Saturday she'd gathered about $90,000 — more than halfway to her goal of $150,000.
Strack said she's astounded at the outpouring of support. Hawthorne's story has spread throughout the bike dancing and Burning Man communities online, and fundraising events have been held in other cities, such as San Francisco, Portland, Austin and New York.
More fundraisers are planned, and details on donating can be found at friendsofhollis.blogspot.com.
It's beautiful to see, Strack said, "this safety net that we thought was invisible."
E-mail Diana Samuels at email@example.com.