Thai teen hit by car wakes from coma

Aroonrak was hit by a car in Balestier Road on Sept 18. She is due for a skull operation in about a month.
Aroonrak was hit by a car in Balestier Road on Sept 18. She is due for a skull operation in about a month.

Parents had been by her bedside every day; online appeal raises over $118,000 for family

"I want to go home." Those were the first words whispered by Thai teenager Aroonrak Jattanathammajit who was left in a coma after she was hit by a car in Balestier Road last month.

Aroonrak, 16, first opened her eyes on Sunday evening after being warded for nearly a month at the KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH).

Her father, who was by her side when she first came around, said through a translator yesterday: "She was looking at the drip next to the bed, eyes wide."

Mr Sarayuth Jattanathammajit, 49, said: "Now, I am relieved. I am happy she can open her eyes."

Aroonrak, a Secondary 2 student at San Yu Adventist School , was hit by a car after leaving her hostel in Balestier Road on Sept 18.

After she was hit, the teen was taken to KKH where she underwent two brain operations. She spent 10 days in the Intensive Care Unit. She was later moved to a normal ward.

 
 

Her parents have been by her bedside every day and when she woke on Sunday, it was such a relief for them that they finally left the ward for a meal together.

"Usually we will take turns (to get food)," said Mr Jattanathammajit. This was so that one parent would always be with Aroonrak, their only child.

Mr Jattanathammajit had only $500 with him when he first arrived in Singapore after the accident.

He had borrowed about 12 million Thai baht (S$465,000) from a bank to fund his family's ailing rubber business, as well as to send his daughter here to study.

After reading reports about the teen's plight earlier this month, Singaporean Dennis Yeo, 44, started an online crowdfunding drive to help Aroonrak and her family.

In less than two weeks, more than $118,000 has been raised on fund-raising website Give.asia.

Mr Yeo, who works in a non-profit organisation, said he wanted to help ease the burden of Aroonrak's medical bills. He and her parents have settled the outstanding bills, which amounted to about $57,000.

The family has been overwhelmed by the help it has received. "I never thought so many people would come forward to help," Mr Jattanathammajit said tearfully.

Yesterday, Mr Yeo went to KKH to hand over a portion of the money - about $90,000 - raised for the family.

He intends to keep the campaign going until Sunday and hand over the remaining funds raised to the family after that.

Mr Jattanathammajit thanked Mr Yeo profusely when the two met at the hospital yesterday.

Said Mr Yeo: "We cannot communicate verbally, but we have a common understanding that what we are doing is for the sake of his daughter."

For Aroonrak, there is still a long road to recovery.

Though her hospital bills thus far have been settled, she is expected to go for a skull operation in about a month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2016, with the headline 'Thai teen hit by car wakes from coma'. Print Edition | Subscribe