Singapore

Father hit by flesh-eating bacteria, family struggles with $123,000 medical bill

Family struggles as father on pilgrimage is hit by flesh-eating bacteria, medical bill at $123,000 and rising

He fell after being pushed during a minor pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

In the confusion, someone stepped on Mr Abdul Ghafur Mohd Ibrahim's left ankle.

Today, the 59-year-old bus driver is recovering in a hospital in Jordan, with his left leg amputated after it was infected by flesh-eating bacteria.

Facing a rising medical bill that is at $123,000 currently, Mr Abdul Ghafar's family is trying to raise money, along with the sum needed to repatriate him.

His son-in-law Mohamad Ameen Said Abdul Kadir, 37, told The Straits Times on Monday: "We're shocked that a small ankle injury could become so serious. We were heartbroken when we learnt he was infected by flesh-eating bacteria."

Mr Abdul Ghafur and his wife were part of a group that left Singapore on Dec 11 to perform their "umrah".

After his fall, and towards the end of the pilgrimage, he discovered big blisters on his left foot.

As he was staying in Jordan then, he checked into Al Khalidi Hospital in Amman on Dec 23.

We were heartbroken when we learnt he was infected by flesh-eating bacteria. Mr Abdul Ghafur’s son-in-law

For the next three days, doctors gave the Malaysia-born Singapore permanent resident antibiotics to control the infection on his ankle, which was oozing pus.

Three members of Mr Abdul Ghafur's family flew to Jordan on Dec 27 to keep his wife company.

AGGRESSIVE

Despite the antibiotics, the infection continued to spread aggressively, said Mr Ameen, an operations manager.

Mr Abdul Ghafur's infection worsened after he developed high fever and low blood pressure and eventually, the left leg had to be amputated above the knee.

Today, the bacterial infection appears to be contained, although Mr Abdul Ghafur remains in intensive care and is being supported by a ventilator.

While he is recovering, his family has been saddled with a hefty medical bill.

A copy of the 35-page medical bill and medical report was shown to ST.

His 35-year-old daughter, who wanted to be known only as Madam Rabiathul, said "the medical fees are too high for us to cover".

Through contributions made by strangers who had seen the family's plea for donations on social media, the family has managed to raise around $32,000, which is still not enough.

They also expect the bill to increase.

Mr Ameen felt the $55 travel insurance his father-in-law had paid as part of the "umrah" package was "inadequate".

ST understands that the travel insurance covers only $20,000 for hospitalisation and $50,000 for repatriation to Singapore.

Mr Ameen said: "The cheapest quote to fly him back to Singapore with proper medical attention is around US$120,000 ($174,000).

"And he is in no condition to fly.

"What is important for the family right now is to generate as much funds as possible. We're thankful some help is coming our way."

Mr Ameen said he had sought assistance from Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The family is also looking into Mr Abdul Ghafur's personal accident insurance plan, which has a clause for permanent disability.

Mr Ameen said: "My father-in-law's personal accident insurer needs to see him in Singapore where his condition will be examined and verified by the insurer's doctor before any payout is made."

Mr Abdul Ghafur's plight was intially brought to light by netizens, including Ms Rubiah Suib, a colleague of Madam Rabiathul, who had appealed for donations on her Facebook on Dec 28.

Her post, which was one of many similar posts, was shared more than 500 times.

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