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Kerri Heng
Wednesday, Jul 30, 2014

Singapore

Man who lost legs in accident: I'm thankful I can still use my hands

The New Paper | Kerri Heng | Wednesday, Jul 30, 2014

Mr Juma’at Pungut and his wife Madam Sharifah Azah hope he will be allowed to return home for Hari Raya celebrations today.

All he wants is to go home for Hari Raya.

For the last two months, Mr Juma'at Pungut, 52, has been lying on a hospital bed.

The security guard was warded after a worksite accident last month, where he lost both legs.

Mr Juma'at was due to go on home leave from hospital yesterday, but he learnt he could be home for only a day - so he decided to go home today instead, for Hari Raya.

If he had gone home yesterday, he would have had to be back at the hospital last night.

Although he said National University Hospital (NUH) has yet to confirm his home leave, Mr Juma'at hopes that he can do so as it will be the first time in close to two months that he will be back at his Boon Lay flat.

He will find out today if he can go home.

THE ACCIDENT

On June 2, Mr Juma'at had been working at a container depot in Tuas when he was hit by a heavy duty vehicle.

Mr Juma'at said he had been standing near the guardhouse checking vehicles that were entering and exiting his company's premises when he was hit.

"I was conscious after (the vehicle) hit me. I could still shout. Both my legs were broken. There was a lot of blood. My friend called the ambulance," said Mr Juma'at.

As he waited for the ambulance, his friend cradled and comforted him.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force confirmed the incident and said they received a call for assistance at 11.38am.

Mr Juma'at was sent to NUH.

Now, both of his legs are gone. His right leg is amputated above the knee and his left leg ends below the knee.

The New Paper understands that he was sent to the operating theatre about three times.

Speaking at his ward earlier this week, Mr Juma'at looked calm and collected.

Seated up, he said several times: "I want to go home."

He continued: "I feel okay. My body feels like it wants to walk, but (it) cannot. I am thankful that I can still talk, I can still use my hands." He hopes to walk again with the help of prosthetic legs.

MEDICAL EXPENSES

Fortunately, his medical expenses are covered by his company and he is still on the company's payroll.

He was earning about $1,500 a month.

But now, with the loss of his legs, Mr Juma'at worries about how he will put food on the table.

He is the sole breadwinner for the family and was healthy with no medical issues before the accident.

His wife Madam Sharifah Azah, 54, and two daughters aged 17 and 12 suffer from cerebral palsy. The girls attend a special needs school. The couple have two other daughters, 16-year-old twins.

"Sometimes, we eat instant noodles and buy eggs," said Madam Sharifah, adding that they barely have enough to get by after paying utility bills and school fees.

They were planning to visit relatives in Kuala Lumpur on June 3.

"It would have been (my children's) first trip overseas. And it would have been my first trip in a long while," said Madam Sharifah, who had renewed their passports specially for the trip.

HOSPITAL STAYS

In the two months that Mr Juma'at has been hospitalised, he spent some time at Westpoint Hospital when he was in a more stable condition, then transferred to St Luke's Hospital for rehabilitation.

But complications arose and he had to return to NUH for treatment.

At St Luke's Hospital, said Madam Sharifah, her husband would lift himself onto a wheelchair and make his way to the ground floor to people watch because he was bored of being confined to the bed.

Mr Juma'at also grew tired of the bland hospital food and would ask his family to buy him food like mee rebus.

"But the doctor said that he had to stick to hospital food as he could not eat belacan and so on," said Madam Sharifah.

Describing him as a tidy person, she said: "He (used to) clean up our home for me. He used to sweep the floor. He doesn't like clutter." The Ministry of Social and Family Development said in a statement that the family has been assisted financially via ComCare schemes since April.

Madam Sharifah thought at first that her husband's injury was minor.

She said: "I didn't think it was so bad, I didn't expect him to lose both his legs."

She has not slept well since and there have been occasions where she would doze off on the train on her way home from the hospital and miss her stop.

But there is no bitterness in her heart.

The incident was God's will, she said.

"God gave us this. We must accept it. I must handle it. With my four daughters to look after, I have no choice."

kerrihyp@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on July 28, 2014.
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