Jobless man amputates own arm after accident

When nobody lends a hand: Thirty-two-year-old Yosep, stands at his modest house in Jeungjing hamlet, Cicangkang Girang sub-district, West Bandung regency. The jobless man recently decided to personally amputate his severely wounded left arm with an iron saw, as he could not afford proper medical treatment.
PHOTO: Jakarta Post/ANN

A 32-year-old man from West Bandung regency, West Java, recently decided to amputate his own rotting, numb arm without any medical assistance, citing financial constraints.

Using an iron saw, Yosep, a resident of Jeungjing hamlet, Cicangkang Girang sub-district, cut the lower part of his left arm with his wife, Ai Rohmatika, watching. He did the operation without anaesthetic in mid-June, just a week before the Islamic fasting month of Ramadhan.

"I cried. I could not stand watching it," Ai told The Jakarta Post recently.

Yosep said he had needed two days to fully sever his wounded arm.

He started by cutting the blackened part of his arm and later cut the remaining attached part of his numb bone the next day by stepping on it with the help of a wooden brace.

"I felt relieved when it was already cut, but I was also sad," said Yosep, showing the amputated part of his arm that he keeps in a cloth wrap.

Yosep, who used to work as seasonal construction worker, was injured on Feb. 14, when he was working at a residential compound in the neighbouring Karawang regency. Yosep was installing a gate canopy when he got an electric shock from a high-voltage cable connected to a transformer belonging to state-owned electricity company PLN.

"I woke up at the hospital that day, it was nearly midnight," said Yosep, who received two days of medical treatment at Citra Sari Husada hospital, Karawang.

He said he had decided to go home because he thought that he had not received proper medical treatment for his wound. He said he also did not want to burden his employer with hospital expenses, as the latter had already spent Rp 2.3 million (S$235) on his medical bills.

His employer later gave him Rp 400,000 for further outpatient treatment, but when all the money had been spent on medicine his boss refused to give more.

"He said that I was only a seasonal worker so that he could not pay for all of the medical expenses […] I don't want to expect anything from him again," the father of one, who only graduated from junior high school, said.

Yosep said his employer used to pay him in advance every time he would return to his village. His cash receipts range from Rp 250,000 to Rp 2.5 million.

Despite his worsening wound, Yosep said he had decided not to seek medical treatment at the regency-owned hospital over fears that he would still be required to pay for expensive medicines, despite being covered by the state-funded health insurance programme, Jamkesmas. He said his fears arose from previous personal experience.

Yosep said he also feared that should he have to have his arm amputated, he would not be able to afford it.

"I cannot even afford the monthly premium to be a Healthcare and Social Security Agency (BPJS) member," he said, referring to the agency that manages the National Healthcare Program (JKN).

Yosep now spends his days at home. He said he did not know what to do to support his family, saying that his permanent handicap would prevent him from working as a farm laborer or motorcycle mechanic.

Prior to the recent Idul Fitri holiday, local residents donated Rp 750,000 to Yosep, who used the money to buy daily necessities.

Responding to Yosep's condition, Cicangkang Girang sub-district consultative council (BPD) secretary Dida Ahmad Maulana said the council was planning to endorse Yosep to work with the sub-district administration in the community protection (Linmas) field.

"I think Yosep can fill the position. I will immediately propose his recruitment to the sub-district administration," he said.