7-year-old Singaporean boy can't walk or talk after near-drowning experience
"When his parents hug and kiss him, Syahriz only responds with a distant gaze and a slight frown." As heartbreaking as this incident is, it reminds us - yet again - to always be alert and aware when our kids are in the pool.
Until last month, seven-year-old Syahriz Matin Abdul Halim loved running around and playing like any other little boy his age.
But after he almost drowned last month in a swimming pool, now, he can barely move.
According to The New Paper, the little boy is at KK Women's and Children's Hospital, where the only movement he can manage is caused by muscle spasms, making him fidget uncontrollably.
When his parents hug and kiss him, Syahriz only responds with a "distant gaze and a slight frown".
His father Mr Abdul Halim Abdul Haziz, says his little boy is "almost like a vegetable", unable to talk, walk or swallow food. "He doesn't recognise us", says Mr Halim, "he was not like this before (the incident)."
Syahriz has anoxic brain injury, which was caused by a lack of oxygen to his brain -- caused in turn by his near-drowning experience last month.
A horrifying incident
Mr Halim revealed to The New Paper that on October 11, his son (who did not know how to swim) was playing in a private swimming pool during a family gathering, along with other friends and family members.
The tragedy reportedly happened when Mr Halim stepped out for a few minutes.
"I heard someone scream Syahriz's name and I ran back quickly. All I saw was my son floating in the pool, motionless.
"I can't really remember anything else because I was not there when he almost drowned, except that he no longer moved.
"It was heartbreaking."
When Mr Halim returned, his brother-in-law had taken Syahriz out of the pool. Soon after this, a lifeguard appeared and administered CPR. The little boy reportedly had a pulse, but he was not breathing at this point.
After Syahriz was rushed to hospital, it was a battle to save his life. Doctors told the anxious parents that they couldn't guarantee anything. All they said that they would try their best.
Syahriz thankfully started breathing again after being on life support for a few days.
But just as his parents thought the worse was over, "an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan showed that the boy had anoxic brain injury, with damaged cells at the top and back of his brain."
This brain damage has affected his vision and motor skills.
Parents never give up on their children. Find out on the next page what Syahriz's parents hope to do next in terms of helping their little boy recover.
There is always hope...
The New Paper report says that Syahriz now undergoes an hour each of occupational therapy and physiotherapy every day. He also has to take medication to prevent seizures.
Doctors have said "other aspects of recovery will depend on his willpower," according to Mr Halim.
Meanwhile, the little boy's devoted parents take turns to stay by their son's side.
Mr Halim has these heartbreaking words to say:
"For more than a month now, I just sit there (by my son's bed), waiting. I don't know when I would break down. Each time I pray for my son, I cry. I have run out of tears."
Reportedly, an Indiegogo crowd-funding initiative has been set up to help Syahriz seek treatment at a US hospital. "Even if I have to be on my knees and beg, I will try," says Mr Halim. "As a parent, I have to go all out."
Syahriz has a three-year-old brother and an 11-year-old sister. His mum is currently three months pregnant.
After 3 months at KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH), Syahriz finally returned home to his family.
The Straits Times covered the follow-up reports on Syahriz.
Despite the treatments, Syahriz is still using a wheelchair and is unresponsive when spoken to. He has to be fed through a tub.
His doctors have not commented on whether they expect him to recover.
The 7-year-old goes through daily therapy and medication at home, and travels to KKH weekly for physiotherapy and occupational therapy. The Indiegogo campaign has expanded, even getting the attention of celebrities such as actor Aaron Aziz and Singapore Idol winner Hady Mirza.
The fundraising have collected almost $75, 000 in donations thus far. A football match featuring ex-national players together with a charity concert have raised more than $11, 000.
Mr Halim stated that "The community was very sympathetic to him".
He hopes to raise enough to send his child to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, where he believes will be beneficial for Syahriz.
Private neurologist Charles Siow was reported to have said that Syahriz's condition may still improve, as children's brains are more pliant: "With rehabilitation, physiotherapy, as well as music and play therapy, he may recover."
Read on to find out what you need to know to avoid such an accident from happening.
We say it again: pool safety is a must
Not too long ago, we read about the toddler who almost drowned at Temasek Club. What happened to Syahriz is yet another reminder to all parents to watch their children like a hawk when they are in the pool.
Parents, it only takes a few minutes for tragedy to strike in the water. Always follow pool and water safety practices and even if your child can swim, still set down water safety rules for them to follow.
Read this article for pool safety tips for toddlers, and show this video on pool safety to your older children.
Remember: in Singapore, it is not mandatory to have lifeguards stationed at swimming pools, so your child's safety is your responsibility.
Parents, what are your own pool safety tips when it comes to your kids? Do share them with everyone in a comment below.