Food poisoning: Victim's hands amputated

Mr Tan Whee Boon in good spirits after surgery yesterday. The food poisoning led to medical conditions requiring his hands and feet to be amputated.
Mr Tan Whee Boon in good spirits after surgery yesterday. The food poisoning led to medical conditions requiring his hands and feet to be amputated.PHOTO: COURTESY OF CHOONG SIET MEI

Technician Tan Whee Boon had both hands amputated at the wrist yesterday - but came out of the operation smiling.

The 50-year-old suffered a bout of food poisoning last month which led to medical conditions that required both his hands and feet to be amputated.

The operation to remove his feet should take place in two weeks.

Wife Choong Siet Mei, 47, said her husband was "still smiling" at 4.30pm when he came out of the hour-long surgery, which went smoothly. "He's very strong," said Madam Choong in Mandarin. "We were sad but that time has passed. Since there's no way around the amputations, we have to face it."

Yesterday's surgery had been delayed by a week because Mr Tan had a low red- blood cell count.

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

Tests revealed he had severe pneumonia complicated by sepsis.

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

About $100,000 has been donated to Mr Tan and his family since news on his plight broke last Friday.

Mr Tan has received about $60,000 in his bank account after a friend set up a Facebook page appealing for public donations.

The other $40,000 was raised by two crowdfunding pages on the Indiegogo Life website - one of which is still ongoing - but is not yet with the family.

 
 

The couple have two children, aged 14 and 15, and their children's schools - CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School and Catholic High School - are also raising funds for the family.

"Students, parents and alumni have been rallying and donating generously," said Catholic High School principal Soh Lai Leng.

Madam Choong added: "We don't want to think so far ahead.

"Right now, I just wish that he can finish the operations, then recover quickly and not suffer any infections. After that, we will think about (employment issues)."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2015, with the headline 'Food poisoning: Victim's hands amputated'. Print Edition | Subscribe