Taipei fire survivor lives with no regrets

ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

S'porean teen caught in water park inferno is focused on her family and studying medicine

Christmas has always been a family affair for 18-year-old Megan Loy.

But the holiday takes on a special meaning this year for the Singaporean, who suffered serious burns on up to 80 per cent of her body when a blaze broke out at the Colour Play Asia festival in Taipei on June 27.

"I now live life with no regrets. I feel like if I had died that day, my biggest regret would probably be not telling my family that I love them enough," said Megan, who was flown to Singapore on June 30, and discharged from the Burns Centre at Singapore General Hospital (SGH) at the end of October.

 

Her burn wounds have now been reduced to less than 5 per cent of her body after nine skin grafts.

The family did away with exchanging Christmas gifts last year and donated to the underprivileged instead. Since Megan's 15-year-old sister Lauren returned from Shanghai two weeks ago, they have been spending the holidays simply, in each other's company.

LIVING LIFE TO THE FULLEST

I now live life with no regrets. I feel like if I had died that day, my biggest regret would probably be not telling my family that I love them enough.

MEGAN, on her close relationship with her family

"When you're that close to death, you tend to focus on the things that matter, rather than on material things," said Megan, who was in Taiwan on a celebratory graduation trip with five friends. She was dancing when a ball of fire ripped through the crowd.

"Hearing the blood-curdling screams was the worst. I didn't feel much pain, but I realised that was worse because even my nerve endings had been burned," she said.

Businessman Joseph Loy, 48, is glad to have his daughter back home. "She's been through hell and back," he told The Straits Times.

The Taiwanese authorities suspect that an explosion of the coloured powder thrown on partygoers - a hallmark of the event - was to blame for the fire.

Today, Megan will be having a gathering with 60 relatives at an annual Christmas party. The teen, who completed her International Baccalaureate exams in May at Haileybury and Imperial Service College in England, said she is looking forward to it.

Megan, who has to wear a pressure garment to protect her newly grafted skin, is not too bothered about the visible scars on her face and neck. "It can be a blow to have permanent scars that you have to deal with for the rest of your life, especially for teenagers who may be more self-conscious.

"But I have other priorities, like getting into medical school," she said, cheekily dubbing her stay in hospital as a "four-month crash course" on burn injuries.

She has always wanted to be a doctor, and is applying to study medicine at the National University of Singapore, where she hopes to specialise in burns and plastic surgery.

Her family, who had been based in Shanghai for the past seven years, will stay put here so that she can visit SGH regularly for physiotherapy and doctor appointments. Her sister will transfer from Dulwich College Shanghai to Singapore Chinese Girls' School next year, and her mother Lim Wee Ping, 48, who works in a bank, will start work here next month.

Megan finds strength through her family's support, as well as a private group on Facebook created by survivors of the Taipei accident, which has more than 400 members.

"Every time I read stories about others who have passed away or had to amputate a limb, it just makes me feel like I'm just so lucky to be alive."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 25, 2015, with the headline 'Taipei fire survivor lives with no regrets'. Print Edition | Subscribe