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Kuch's life blighted by a tragic motorcycle accident

Rehabilitation
Cambodia

A cheeky young lad, Kuch isn’t afraid to show his pride. And he has every right to! After losing his right leg in a motorcycle accident, this determined little boy quickly learned to walk again with a prosthesis made for him by Humanity & Inclusion (HI) .

Kuch was caught up in a collision between the family motorcycle on which he was travelling with his parents and another motorcycle driving at high speed and which hit them head-on.

Kuch was caught up in a collision between the family motorcycle on which he was travelling with his parents and another motorcycle driving at high speed and which hit them head-on. | © Stephen Rae / HI

Like most people in Cambodia, the family of 8-year-old Kuch travels around on their only motorcycle. One evening in April 2019, as they were returning from a visit to the distant province of Takeo, the young boy and his parents, feeling carefree and light-hearted, crammed onto the seat of their motorcycle. Suddenly, there was a loud band, followed by silence. Another motorcycle, coming from the opposite direction at high speed, had hit them head-on. At the blink of an eye, their lives had changed forever.

Kuch's right leg amputated to save his life

The whole family lost consciousness. As they slowly came round, the horror of what had just happened dawned on them. Kuch's parents quickly realised their son was in a critical condition. His right leg was broken and caught in a wheel and the wreckage from both bikes. For young Kuch, this marked the start of a terrible ordeal. After being extricated from the wreckage, he was rushed to Takeo provincial hospital, before being transferred the next day to Khanta Bopha hospital in the capital, Phnom Penh. When they arrived, Kuch’s parents were shocked to learn he needed a trans-femoral amputation to save his life. 

Another operation and months of recovery

Six months later and now back home, the family contacted HI’s team so Kuch could be fitted with a prosthetic leg at the rehabilitation centre in Kampong Cham. Unfortunately, a new ordeal lay in store for the little boy as he waited for his "new leg". His stump became red and infected, and he began to suffer from high fevers. When medical staff examined him, they made a disturbing discovery: unless Kuch had another amputation, he could develop septicaemia. He returned to hospital in Phnom Penh and spent months in recovery, pushing his morale to zero.

Kuch enthusiastic about his rehabilitation

In June 2020, once the stump had healed, and after long rehabilitation sessions to help him learn to walk again, Kuch was finally ready to be fitted with his prosthesis. A new life began, and he was ready to put his ordeal behind him and get back on form. He enthusiastically set about doing his walking exercises and got used to his prosthesis in no time at all.

Kuch is back to his old self!

"After his leg was amputated, my son couldn’t walk anymore. He even found it hard to use crutches and he couldn’t go far without getting tired. Everything was an effort. He even had trouble getting up when he bent to pick things up. And our house doesn't have a toilet, so we have to go outside. It was all really complicated for him. Fortunately, since he was fitted with his prosthesis, Kuch has changed a lot. He can help me with the housework, go shopping for food, visit and play with his friends and go to school," says his mother.

He dreams of becoming a doctor

After months of waiting, Kuch has finally returned to school. Because he had fallen behind, he started in first grade - the equivalent of reception class. His school is one and a half kilometres from his home. He mostly walks there but sometimes his father takes him. He enjoys studying and making friends.

"I love playing football with my friends, and I go to school. When I grow up, I want to be a doctor," he says with a big grin on his face and a mischievous twinkle in his eye.

Cambodia has the third-highest motorcycle death rate in the world. In 2019, 30% of new patients at the HI-run physical rehabilitation centre in Kampong Cham were victims of road accidents.

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