ALOR STAR: Seventy-year-old Thiang Din Puang, who lost both his legs to diabetes four years ago, was almost in tears when his son told him on Wednesday he would be getting free artificial legs.
“I could not sleep the whole night as I never thought I could walk again. But now I am looking forward to moving around and be active like before,” said the father of four.
Thiang, a former rubber tapper from Kampung Lampam in Pendang, near here, said he could not wait until Tuesday to have his artificial limbs fixed.
“I am thankful to God and to all the good hearts which made this possible,” he said after having his measurements taken by volunteers at the Chee Yang Kor Moral Uplifting Society hall here yesterday.
Thiang was among 230 amputees nationwide who will receive free prostheses (artificial legs) in what is believed to be the country’s first large effort of this nature.
The project is undertaken by the society, which brought in 108 members from the Prosthesis Foundation of Thailand, including 10 doctors, 80 technical assistants and 18 paramedical staff.
The volunteers, who arrived yesterday with their equipment in their mobile unit, conducted the entire process of measuring, designing the prostheses, making plastic moulds, forming plastic prostheses, fixing parts and joints and manufacturing on-site.
They have started making the prostheses and expect to complete and fix them on the recipients by Tuesday.
Thiang's son, Igon, 35, a mechanic, said his father had always felt sad and withdrawn after his legs were amputatedfrom waist downwards.
Housewife Lau Poh Gaik, 42, whose right leg was amputated from the knee downwards after an accident 10 years ago, said she was at a loss for words to find “there are still kind hearted people around.”
“With the artificial leg, I can now move around and be self reliant,” said the mother of two children who works as an insurance agent in Butterworth.
Another recipient Azanan Tahir, 44, a former Penang Municipal Council worker, said he had his right leg amputated from the knee downwards about nine months ago because of diabetes.
“For a person with three children and a housewife to take care of, the free artificial leg is a boon. I thank God and those who made this possible,” said Azanan from Tanjung Tokong, Penang.
Prosthesis Foundation council member Prof Dr Direk Israngkul, 71, who was among the 10 doctors from Bangkok, said this was the foundation's first charity work in Malaysia after it was set up 11 years ago.
The foundation, set up under the patronage of Thailand's late Queen Srinagarindra, is now under the patronage of Princess Galyani Watana.
Established in 1992, it is based in Chiangmai University's Faculty of Medicine and is headed by Dr Therdchai Jivacate.
Dr Direk, an orthopaedist who runs his own private clinic in Bangkok, said the foundation provided free prostheses to the poor and the needy throughout Thailand and it was manned by volunteers.
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