NSF injured in Taiwan parachute incident completes second surgery without complications

In a photo taken on May 14, 2013, a string of parachutes bloom behind the C-130 Hercules. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) full-time national serviceman who had suffered a cervical spine injury while on parachute training in Taiwan has successfully completed a second surgery without complications, said the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) on Thursday (Jan 2).

Private Joshua Quek Shou Jie, 21, had the planned surgery on Dec 21 to stabilise his cervical spine. The first surgery on Dec 19 had also proceeded without complications.

He had suffered a cervical spine injury on Dec 18 night during a unilateral parachute training in Taiwan. The injury had resulted in neurological deficits including weakness of his upper and lower limbs, added Mindef.

"Some partial recovery of motor functions has taken place since the second surgery, but Pte Quek will require continued rehabilitation and physiotherapy for long term recovery as well as to reduce the damage from the injury," it said in a statement.

Pte Quek's family had been flown in to visit him at the hospital. He is currently breathing without assistance, conscious, alert and conversing with his family, said Mindef.

Chief Commando Officer, Colonel Kenny Tay, visited and spoke with Pte Quek and his family at the hospital.

In the statement, he said: "Joshua is a dedicated soldier who has always given his best. We will give our fullest support to him and his family while he recovers from his injuries."

It was not stated which unit Pte Quek is serving in, but the SAF commando unit - one of the army's elite units - conducts compulsory airborne training.

Mindef said the family appreciated the concern shown by members of the public but have requested that their privacy be respected.

"Mindef and the Singapore Armed Forces will continue to render full assistance to Pte Quek and his family, and will arrange for Pte Quek's return to Singapore when he is medically fit to do so," it added.

The cervical portion of the spine is located at the top part of the spinal cord, or the neck area.

Being closer to the brain and affecting a larger portion of the body, cervical spine injuries are typically the most severe of spinal cord injuries, and could lead to paralysis, according to medical websites.

In an earlier statement, Mindef said the SAF suspended the type of training Pte Quek was doing across the SAF, pending the outcome of investigations.

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