Man affected by GBS in 2015 thankful for his family
Man left partially deaf after GBS outbreak in 2015 is thankful for his family
As one of the 360 people affected by the Group B Streptococcus (GBS) bacteria outbreak which killed two people, you would expect Mr Sim Tharn Chun and his family to be more subdued.
Especially after the 54-year-old became partially deaf and had to leave his job as Singapore and Philippines country manager for a division of industry giant Honeywell.
With Chinese New Year (CNY) tomorrow, they will be visiting relatives as they feel they have much to be thankful for. But Mr Sim is not going to eat yusheng. He now avoids raw food.
In Nov 15, 2015, Mr Sim ate raw fish porridge at the Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre. It caused a high fever.
Mr Sim was then taken to the intensive care unit at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.
He slipped in and out of consciousness and when he woke up 12 days later, he realised he could not hear. He was deaf in his right ear and lost 90 per cent of his hearing in his left.
The Ministry of Health told The New Paper the number of GBS cases notified to them between January to December last year was less than five a week, compared to the nine cases a week from Jan 1 to June 20, 2015.
Sale of ready-to-eat raw freshwater fish have been banned from all food outlets by the National Environment Agency (NEA) since Dec 5 that year.In a joint reply to TNP, the NEA and Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore saidconsumers should ensure the packaging is intact when buying pre-packed yusheng.
Consumers should wash hands before and after handling food, keep it chilled before serving, use clean utensils and consume it within two hours after mixing to be safe.
Mr Sim had surgery on Jan 1, last year, to place cochlear implants in both ears but they have not improved his hearing.
He said: "I feel terrible. It is really challenging to communicate now."
But the incident changed his son, Micah, 17, for the better.
Micah cut down on his three- to four-hour daily gaming sessions and focused on his studies.He had scored 27 points for his L1R5 grades in his preliminary exams and got 11 for O levels.
Replying to TNP's written questions, Mr Sim said: "I'm elated not just about his outstanding results but more so about his drive."
Micah is working as a guest relations executive at a hotel while waiting for polytechnic application results.His mother, Mrs Cathryn Sim, 45, said it reduces the burden on the family's finances, which are expected to run out in four years.
She quit her job last month to help her husband with rehabilitation, and said they are relying on savings and the insurance pay-out to get by.
Several organisations have approached Mr Sim to help, including SG Enable, which helps disabled people find work.
Mrs Sim is considering starting a marriage training and parenting consultancy with her husband. They have two other children - Charis, 19, a Temasek Polytechnic student; and Charity, who is in Secondary 3.
They help out at home, including cooking for their father.
Mr Sim said: "I feel blessed to have them as my children. They show empathy, especially when I'm in a foul mood."
This article has been edited
'No specific job' for deaf people
Miss Sylvia Teng, executive director of the Singapore Association for the Deaf, shared with The New Paper the type of jobs Mr Sim could take on.
She said: "Deaf individuals are able to take on any job based on their education level or work experience, except those that require them to handle phone calls."
There is no specific job or industry that the deaf can only work in, added Miss Teng.
The association encourages all industries and employers to be open to hiring talents from the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.