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'My son is a fighter, so I won't give up'

>> Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Electric New Paper. Sep 07, 2009.
By Shree Ann Mathavan

YOUR child is seriously ill and depends on a ventilator to breathe. Doctors tell you nothing much can be done, and he may be bed-ridden for life. Your only sliver of hope is a radical procedure which is estimated to cost half a million dollars.

What would you do?

That's the situation facing Ms Julaidah Sutarman, a 27-year-old divorcee with two young children. Her son, Mohammad Raiyan Shafiq, 4, is suffering from brainstem damage.

In 2006, when Mohammad Raiyan was just a one-year-old baby, he was stricken with the EV71 virus, a virulent form of hand, foot and mouth disease. Since then, the child, who sustained permanent brainstem damage, has remained conscious, but is unable to speak, sit up or eat.

The Straits Times first reported Mohammad Raiyan's story about a year ago and this was followed by a series of reports in Berita Harian.

The total bill, including the cost of equipment, hospitalisation and therapy would be $500,000. Mohammad Raiyan's monthly medical-related expenses come to about $400 and every hospital trip entails booking a Maxi cab which costs $60 for a round trip.

It's money Ms Julaidah has no hope of raising on her own. She checks baggage at the airport, drawing $1,400 amonth. The medical bills are subsidised with Madam Julaidah's Medifund. Madam Julaidah refuses to give up. She said: 'My son is a fighter, so I have to be like him. I can't give up on him.'

Apart from her salary, Madam Julaidah gets $500 from her ex-husband every month. The family also gets about $270 in monthly financial assistance from a charity, Tabung Amal Aidilfitri.

The boy lives with his mum, sister, 9, aunt, 33, grandmother, 54, who is a housewife, and grandfather, 59, a cleaner, in a four-room HDB flat in Jurong West.


When tragedy strikes the lower income group, they are often unprepared and uninsured for it. Although healthshield plans are affordable, they are seldom properly advised about it.

They will not be able to afford expensive fee-based consultants and commission-based agents will shun them due to the low returns for their time and effort.




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