Food poisoning victim's feet amputated

Technician Tan Whee Boon, whose were hands amputated at the wrist on August 21, had his feet amputated on Thursday.
Technician Tan Whee Boon, whose were hands amputated at the wrist on August 21, had his feet amputated on Thursday. PHOTO: CHOONG SIET MEI

Operation done days after gangrenous hands were removed; public donations hit $100,000

The man whose hands and feet became gangrenous after a severe bout of food poisoning had his feet amputated on Thursday, a week earlier than expected.

Technician Tan Whee Boon, 50, had his hands amputated at the wrist last Friday.

After eating a raw fish dish last month, he was hospitalised with an infection and suffered from medical complications that required his hands and feet to be amputated.

One of the three types of bacteria found in his body was Group B Streptococcus (GBS), which may cause infections of the skin, joints, heart and brain. There is a possible link between raw fish consumption and GBS infection, the Ministry of Health said last month.

Mr Tan's wife, Madam Choong Siet May, 47, said in Mandarin: "Doctors said his condition after the first amputation was okay, so he could go ahead with the surgery to remove his feet."

He told her that the second operation was more painful than the first.

But the family is in good spirits, Madam Choong said.

As Mr Tan is recovering well, she feels she can focus on plans for the future. A medical social worker has told her that her husband will probably have to go to a nursing home for rehabilitation.

"When he moves back home and when he can be more independent, I can go get a job.

"Or maybe I can find a home-based job so I can still take care of him," said the housewife.

Mr Tan was seen at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital on July 13, following a bout of vomiting and diarrhoea after eating a raw fish dish at a Chinatown food centre three days earlier.

Tests revealed he had severe pneumonia complicated by sepsis.

He was given a drug to direct blood flow to his vital organs, which saved his life. But his hands and feet then turned gangrenous.

The public has donated at least $100,000 to Mr Tan and his family since news of his plight broke two weeks ago. The schools of both their children - aged 14 and 15 - also held fund-raisers that ended on Thursday. While the tragedy was hard on the family, it has made them closer.

Madam Choong recounted how she sent a text message to her usually unexpressive daughter that she is awesome, and got a reply: "Mummy, you're awesome too.

"I love you."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2015, with the headline 'Food poisoning victim's feet amputated'. Print Edition | Subscribe