Thai girl who lost both legs in Ang Mo Kio MRT accident brings cheer to hospital patients

Ms Nitcharee Peneakchanasak's job at the World Medical Hospital is to provide moral support to patients. PHOTO: THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PAK KRET (THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Every day, a young woman in a wheelchair has been serving happiness to patients who need moral support at the World Medical Hospital.

Ms Nitcharee "Nong Than" Peneakchanasak, who lost both legs in an accident in Singapore six years ago, smilingly greets patients, listens to their problems, and shares her inspiring attitudes about how to beat the odds.

"Moral support is crucial to patients struggling with illnesses or injuries," said Ms Nitcharee, now 21.

"But while moral support is important, even more meaningful is our strength of mind."

She started working at the hospital more than one month ago under a coveted six-month contract.

The World Medical Hospital has agreed to pay Nitcharee one million baht (S$40,600) a month under the contract, believing that her positive mindset will benefit patients.

"She stands out from other candidates because she does not just deliver motivational speeches. She does what she has talked about. She embodies it," said Dr Kantaporn Harnphanich, deputy hospital director of marketing of the Thai division at the World Medical Hospital.

Ms Nitcharee Peneakchanasak with patients at the hospital. PHOTO: THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

Although Ms Nitcharee faced a big loss, she has refused to give in to pain. Rather, she has mustered her courage, her resilience and optimism to live a good, useful life.

Ms Nitcharee has enrolled at the prestigious Thammasat University, studying communication. She has played sports, sometimes with the help of prosthetic legs, including badminton and swimming. She has also served the public, via events and campaigns she takes part in.

And after winning the patient-happiness survey position at the hospital, she has spent most of her time talking to patients to lift their spirits.

"We have got very good feedback from patients" about her, Dr Kantaporn said. When she has no other obligation, Ms Nitcharee has been known to spend her whole day, seven days a week, at the hospital.

Ms Nitcharee Peneakchanasak with a patient at the hospital. PHOTO: THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

She sprints around on her wheelchair, visiting patients in their rooms.

"How are you today?" She pops out this greeting with a smile every time she meets a new patient.

Then they will talk, share their experiences, and discuss inspiring and useful principles for life.

For patients with ongoing treatments, or requiring a prolonged stay at the hospital, Ms Nitcharee has already been more like a friend.

Asked about the secrets behind her inspiring life, Ms Nitcharee said she accepted the realities - including the hurtful ones. "I am conscious of what I think and do. When a problem arises, I look for ways to solve it, perhaps little by little," she said.

Ms Nitcharee said she had never tried to fool herself into believing what is not real. "I live in the realities and live my life as happily as I can," she said.

The young, cheerful woman said that her desire to share these tips with others going through what she has, led her to apply for the post of patient-happiness surveyor.

"I know patients in general need moral support. So, I want to give mine to them. We can share our stories and empower each other."

She is also working on a plan to raise donations for foundations or organisations that provide prosthetic legs to those in need.

Dr Kantaporn endorses Ms Nitcharee's plan. "Our hospital is working on the project to raise funds for the underprivileged, particularly in regards to the provision of prosthetic legs," he said.

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