Sunday, February 6, 2011

"Ex-Samui Resident helps save baby Tuptim!” by Alister Bredee

On Wednesday 19th January a leading edge transplant operation took place in a well know Bangkok Hospital. Baby Tuptim received a piece of her mother’s liver in a surgery performed by Professor Dr Sumate Teeraratkul of the Ramathibodi Hospital. The eighteen hour surgery involved taking a piece of mother Nit’s liver and placing in her baby daughter. The liver is one of the few human organs known to regenerate itself. The operation was a success and the little girl is now in Intensive Care where she will remain for several weeks. The mother is expected to leave hospital soon.

The eight month old is the daughter of Phuket Tiger Muay Thai trainer Rattanachai “Kru Nai” Jadngoouem and his wife Nit. At three months of age the baby was diagnosed with a bilary obstruction and local doctors said there was nothing they could do to help her. The parents were resigned to her death, besides “Kru Nai” was particularly suspicious of the medical establishment as his own mother had recently died as a result of what appeared to be a simple knee surgery.

Grainne Farrell first came to Thailand to practice her passion which is the martial art of Thai boxing. Although from Belfast she was living in London and working in the pharmaceutical industry. Her Thai experiences persuaded her to start a medical tourism business which she based in the Kingdom. She is the Managing Partner of “Lotus Medical International”, and came first to Koh Samui to locate her new venture. In 2010 she moved to Phuket because it seemed that many of her “tourists” came in search of cosmetic surgery and there were better surgeons available in the larger locale of Koh Phuket.

A rich foreign business man and would be business partner first brought Tuptim’s case to Grainne’s attention. He had heard her sad story and discovered that a state of the art operation could be performed in Thailand and agreed to fund it to the tune of THB 1,500,000. The businessman subsequently disappeared and literally left Grainne holding the baby. He had underestimated the grit of the Irish. Christmas was looming and Grainne being a member of the MuayThai boxing community in Chalong, quickly leapt to the aid of the little girl. She organized a fund raising campaign amongst the community to meet the costs of the operation. This started with a charity yoga event and moved on to a fancy dress theme fundraiser on Christmas Eve. They still had a long way to go when fate stepped in!

The fairy godfather in this case is Dana White who is the President of the UFC or “Ultimate Fighting Championships” in the USA. Someone had told White about little Tuptim’s predicament and he quickly agreed to put up the $50,000 necessary to fund the operation. White has a reputation for outspokenness which does not sit well with some people. However, here he has proved that he does indeed have a heart of gold!

It is White’s generosity that made the life saving operation on January 19th possible but Grainne and her fund raisers have not finished yet. Tuptim will need to take expensive immuno-suppressant drugs far into the future. The cost of these medications alone will come out at more than the cost of the operation itself. Based on this, the plucky Irish woman has decided to start a foundation to meet these high medical bills. But she is not going to stop there as there are other children like Tuptim who would simply be left to die if it were not for the energy and overall generosity of people like Grainne Farrell. It is her goal then not only to help Tuptim but use the money from her charity to help meet the medical expenses of other children in a similar situation. Maybe you can find it in your heart to help them meet their goals by donating something to what can only be described as a very worthy cause. You will find their website at

This article appeared in "The Samui Gazette" of Friday 4th February 2011

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