Struck by stroke, stuck in S'pore

Struck by stroke, stuck in S'pore

She hasn't slept properly in three weeks.

She cries constantly.

Mrs Poonam Jaswal's perfect little world has fallen apart.

She came to Singapore on Nov 23 to celebrate her 27th wedding anniversary with husband Sunil Singh Jaswal.

But their dream holiday turned into a nightmare when Mr Jaswal, 52, suffered a stroke on Nov 25, a day after their anniversary, and has been in the Intensive Care Unit of the neurosurgery ward in the Singapore General Hospital since.

What's worse is that the couple from Solan in Himachal Pradesh, India, did not travel with insurance.

And the hospital bill has already run up to a whopping $42,000.

The Jaswals' only child, 25-year- old Svaneel, arrived in Singapore on Nov 26, bringing along whatever money she could arrange.

The mother and daughter have spent the last 21 days in the corridors of the hospital since they don't have any relatives or friends in Singapore.

Eyes brimming with tears, Mrs Jaswal, 48, recounts her harrowing experience: "We had just checked into our hotel in Sentosa on Nov 25 and sat down for a cup of tea. My husband complained of giddiness and started vomiting. His condition deteriorated rapidly. I called the hotel staff who arranged for an ambulance promptly... at the hospital the doctors said he had suffered a stroke and he had to be put on a ventilator."

Mr Jaswal's condition has improved since and the family wants to move him back to India.

But the cost of travel is a major hindrance.

Insurance ignorance

Miss Svaneel, who is a law student, says: "He needs to be taken on a stretcher, with a doctor and a nurse accompanying him. This is going to cost another $35,000. We don't have that kind of money.

We are a middle class family. I've managed to pay only about $12,000 of the total hospital bill of $42,000 and that has already exhausted all our savings. Some of it was borrowed from friends."

The Jaswals would not have suffered this plight if they had taken travel insurance.

Last year 829,000 Indian tourists visited Singapore.

Many Indians, like the Jaswals, don't buy insurance out of ignorance.

Mrs Jaswal says nobody told them of the importance of taking travel insurance. "We don't travel frequently. Our travel arrangements were made through an agent, who never mentioned anything about insurance."

The Jaswals run a vocational training institute in Solan, 50km from state capital Shimla and, according to them, they even provide free education to poor villagers.

Miss Svaneel says the family has reached breaking point: "We are so helpless at the moment. The lack of money is crippling. My mum is completely shattered."

She has approached the Indian High Commission for help and claims "they've been very kind to us and assured that they would provide whatever help they can".

In the meantime, the Indian Women's Association Singapore has offered to channel help to the family.

Its president Subina Khaneja told tabla! that readers wanting to help could write to the IWA at community@iwasingapore.org and it will facilitate the assistance.

ankitav@sph.com.sg

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