Boy in near-drowning mishap now at home

Mr Abdul Halim with his son Syahriz, who spent the last three months warded at KK Women's and Children's Hospital.
Mr Abdul Halim with his son Syahriz, who spent the last three months warded at KK Women's and Children's Hospital. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Seven-year-old Syahriz Matin Abdul Aziz has returned home to his family after spending the last three months warded at KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) following a near-drowning accident which left him with a brain injury.

Syahriz, who did not know how to swim, was playing in a private swimming pool at a family gathering when relatives found him floating motionless last October.

He was rescued by his uncle and later given cardiopulmonary resuscitation. He suffered a lack of oxygen to the brain and lost his motor skills as a result.

Now using a wheelchair, Syahriz does not respond to speech and has to be fed through a tube. His doctors have not said if they expect him to recover.

"I still hope that I can get my son back," said his father, 38-year-old technician Abdul Halim Abdul Aziz, adding that Syahriz used to be a very active child.

A student at Woodgrove Primary School at the time of the accident, Syahriz now goes to KKH once a week for occupational therapy and physiotherapy in addition to daily therapy and medication at home.

His plight became a rallying point for the community, garnering the attention of celebrities such as actor Aaron Aziz and former Singapore Idol winner Hady Mirza, who posted about his case on their Facebook pages.

It sparked several fundraising efforts which have so far collected almost $75,000 in donations. These included a football match featuring former national players and a charity concert which raised more than $11,000.

"We hoped it would motivate the family and help in his recovery," said concert organiser Sham Abdul Wahab, director of events company CMX International.

Mr Abdul Halim said: "The community was very sympathetic to him." His wife, Ms Nuraini Abdul Rahman, who is five months' pregnant with their fourth child, is currently on six months unpaid leave from her administrative position to help take care of Syahriz.

To make up for the loss of income, the family have rented out their flat and moved into a relative's home.

Mr Abdul Halim hopes to raise enough to send Syahriz to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, where he believes he will have a better chance of recovery.

Private neurologist Charles Siow said Syahriz's condition may still improve, as children's brains are more pliant: "With rehabilitation, physiotherapy, as well as music and play therapy, he may recover."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2016, with the headline Boy in near-drowning mishap now at home. Subscribe