Win Ko is 19 years old. He and his brothers were adopted when they were young as both of their parents passed away from disease. Win Ko attended school to first standard and stopped when he was 12 years old as his adopted family didn’t have the money to continue paying for his education. His older brother never went to school but studied at a monastery. His younger brother attends school and is in fourth standard.
Two years ago (in 2009), Win Ko was riding on a tractor with about twenty other people heading to a ceremony at a nearby temple. The dirt road was in poor condition and the tractor toppled over. Win Ko had been sitting on the side of the tractor when it fell and his leg was caught under it. The other passengers suffered minor injuries but Win Ko was seriously injured. Many people helped to lift the tractor off his leg. His bone wasn’t showing but there was a lot of blood.
Win Ko’s leg was wrapped in a longyi (Burmese sarong) and he was taken to Thaton Hospital (in Mon State) on a three-wheeled pedicab (samlor). Win Ko remembers the journey and says that the road was very bumpy and he was in a lot of pain. When he arrived at the hospital he was put on an IV drip, given a blood transfusion and his leg was bandaged and put in a wooden splint. He had an x-ray and underwent surgery two days later. He had a number of pins put into his leg to fix it internally and external pins were used to hold it in place. He had the external pins for three months and was in hospital for a total of four months. When it came time to remove the external pins, Win Ko was just given a local anaesthetic while the doctors pulled them out. After being discharged, he was cared for by his adopted family. He had a follow-up at a local clinic and he applied oil (traditional medicine) to his leg for a while after the operation. The oil did not help so he has not taken any medicine or applied any creams since.
The cost of his surgery and hospitalization was a total of 2,500,000 (US$2,500). His adopted family used their savings and his adoptive sisters sent some money from Bangkok where they were working. Before his operation, Win Ko was working on the family’s rice farm. Since the accident he hasn’t been able to work because he can’t walk. He now stays at home and helps out with the cooking.
Win Ko doesn’t have any further options for treating his leg in Burma. Many people in his village know about the Mae Tao Clinic. Win Ko decided to go to the Thai-Burma border to see if he could get further treatment. His biological aunt lives in Myawaddy, on the Burma-side of the border and she traveled to Thaton to help Win Ko make his way to the Clinic.
Win Ko says that he feels pain and numbness in his leg and that he cannot sit for a long period of time. He says he feels very sad because he cannot do anything. Before the accident he was very active – he enjoyed playing football and running. He goes on to say that he wants his leg to get better and he wants to be able to walk again. He feels particularly sad because he knows that his adopted family have used a lot of money on his treatment. He wants to get better so that he can work and support his family who have helped him a lot. His adoptive family have been very good to him and they have never made him feel like he was a burden on them.