Regular blood donor once told he'd never walk again
Former air steward run over by truck twice and told he could never walk again is now back on his feet and helping others
This National Day, we celebrate with 16 stories of people who overcame adversity to give back to society. Read their stories and watch the videos at tnp.sg/ndp2016
For 15 months, doctors told him that he might never walk again.
His injuries were horrendous - a crushed right pelvis, and fractured left leg and spine.
A truck had hit his motorcycle at a red light and run over him twice, leaving him with crushed bones and open wounds. For more than six hours, Mr Desmond Lim was left bleeding by the side of the road.
The former air steward, now 40, was on a month-long motorcycle road trip to Myanmar, Laos and Thailand in January 2013 and was on the return leg, heading towards Bangkok, when the accident happened.
"My friends and I were taking different routes and were meeting in Bangkok when I got run over. They only found out about my accident in Bangkok," he said.
"The truck sped off after running over me. I lay there for more than six hours - fully conscious and in excruciating pain - before an ambulance finally came."
The next 15 months were a living hell for him.
Mr Lim, who now does business development with a company dealing with orthopaedic equipment, was in a hospital in Bangkok for three weeks before he was flown back to Singapore and warded at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) for another 10 months.
"They kept me pumped with so much pain medication that those three weeks were a blur. I don't even remember the plane ride.
"All I remembered was being wheeled into the Thai hospital and the next thing I knew, I was waking up in SGH," he said.
Mr Lim said he did not undergo surgery immediately "because I was having a fever and the doctors said that if they opened me up, an infection from the surgery would probably kill me".
By then, he said, his organs "had shifted" and his pelvis was tilting.
"The surgeons could not put (in) metal plates to fix my broken bones. They told me that I had to make alternative plans as I would never walk again."
His sliver of hope came when he met Mr Peter Lim, former head of rehabilitation medicine at SGH, who visited him regularly during the 10 months he was warded.
"Each time, he would come by, hold my hand and say 'you will walk again'. He gave me hope when there was none," said Mr Desmond Lim.
Things started looking up when Mr Lim was moved to Bright Vision Hospital (BVH) for rehabilitation in late 2013. He credits the nurses for keeping his spirits up.
His physiotherapist, Mr Muhammad Firdaus Mohamed Zin, said: "As Desmond wanted to focus on the present and didn't want to think of the future, I worked on what he was capable of at that point and compared his progress to the previous sessions instead."
At home, Mr Lim refused to let his mother and two older sisters "baby" him, so he would walk down the stairs from his 11th-storey flat every day.This was despite his pelvic bone being tilted at an angle, making one leg 4cm shorter than the other.
"To ensure that my gait is steady, one shoe has a 4cm-thick sole. It took me 1½ hours to reach the ground floor and another three hours to walk back up," he said.
By September 2014, although he needed a walking stick to get around, Mr Lim was ready to challenge himself.
So in January last year, he made a three-week road trip to New Zealand on his own.
Most recently, he went to Shanghai, China, and then to Germany for training on how to make compression garments to manage lymphoedema (swelling due to a build-up of lymph in the limbs).
"I extended (my trip for another) two days and also visited Istanbul. I will be leaving for Germany this November for the advanced course."
Mr Lim also become a regular blood donor and has donated blood about eight times since 2014.
"After the accident, there was this strong urge to help in any way possible. I just want to give back to those who need it," he said.
"Life is short. If you can do it, just do it. I will continue to donate until I can't. I don't really care if nobody believes because I've still got a lot of fight left in me."
TNP SPIRIT OF 16 GIVINGBACK
The beneficiary is Bloodbank@HSA