Thai teen hit by car in September is ready to go home
Foreign student hit by car in September discharged from hospital here, will continue treatment in Thailand
After almost two and a half months in hospital, Thai teenager Aroonrak Jattanathammajit is ready to go home.
Along with her parents, the only child has been on an emotional journey since her car accident in September.
It landed the San Yu Adventist School student in the intensive care unit with severe head injuries.
Speaking to the media for the first time since her accident, Aroonrak, 16, told The New Paper that she is excited to return to Thailand, where she will continue treatment.
"I really miss home and I can't wait to eat tom yam soup noodles," said the soft-spoken teenager, who was all smiles at KK Women's and Children's Hospital yesterday morning.
On the morning of Sept 18, Aroonrak, who came to Singapore last year to study, was reportedly hit by a car while crossing Balestier Road.
She was on her way to help out at a community outreach programme for old folk.
A police spokesman said yesterday that no arrest has been made and that the case is still under investigation.
When TNP broke the story on Oct 2, people here opened their hearts and wallets to the family, who were in distress as the teenager's medical bills grew.
One Singaporean, Mr Dennis Yeo, set up a GiveAsia crowdfunding drive for them.
It raised more than $132,000 to help ease the family's burden. (See report on right.)
Aroonrak has been through two brain operations. She had a third operation on Nov 14, where doctors replaced a portion of her skull with an artificial one.
Her father, Mr Sarayuth Jattanathammajit, 49, said he is grateful to the donors, hospital staff and volunteers who had gone all out to help them. He and his wife arrived in Singapore on the day of the accident.
Speaking through a Thai interpreter, Mr Jattanathammajit, who runs an ailing rubber retail business, said: "She will need to continue her treatment in Bangkok, but we will never forget how the people in Singapore have helped us."
The family plans to return to Thailand next Thursday.
Aroonrak will be staying at the Rama Hospital in Bangkok for about four months. She will hopefully be discharged as an outpatient after that, said Ms Kansinee Boonlong, the Thai Association Singapore committee member who has been visiting the family regularly in the hospital.
She said Aroonrak has been doing her physiotherapy exercises. On Monday, she took her first steps since the accident unassisted.
"We were all so amazed. I had goosebumps when she started walking by herself," said Ms Boonlong.
On Thursday, Aroonrak was even given permission to leave the hospital for a two-hour outing with her parents, Ms Boonlong, and another friend.
They had ice cream, and also took a drive down Orchard Road to see the Christmas lights.
While therapy to get her back on her feet has been tiring, Aroonrak said she does not mind.
"It's good for me. And if I practise more, I get more tired and I can sleep better at night," she said.
She also thanked her well-wishers and donors, saying: "I'm so grateful for what they have done. I never thought that people would be so kind, and I'm so thankful."
He will give final $34,000 to family
An October report about the teen's plight in The New Paper moved Mr Dennis Yeo, 44, who works in a non-profit organisation.
He set up a GiveAsia crowdfunding drive for Aroonrak Jattanathammajit.
The campaign, which saw 925 people donate, raised more than $132,000 in two weeks.
Thanks to Mr Yeo's efforts and those of other well-wishers who made donations directly to the family, the Jattanathammajit family were able to pay Aroonrak's medical bills, which amounted to around $142,000.
Mr Yeo will be visiting Aroonrak and her family today to hand them the final portion of the funds raised, which is about $34,000.
It will be used to offset future payments for the teen's recovery in Thailand, he added.
Mr Yeo said: "It's been such a journey.
"I'm really glad that she's going back to Thailand, it means she's on her way to recovery.
"The most important thing is that she can continues to be happy, because that will help her recover faster."