BANGKOK: Scotsman Bill Fairbairn was trapped in a Bangkok condo for 8 days following a stroke and only survived by pulling out the plumbing to get water. So far, in just 2 days, his family have raised nearly £3,000 of a £10,000 crowdfunding target although Mr Fairbairn and his family are paying most of the expenses themselves. The Dunbar man is making an ‘unbelievable’ recovery and is now already certified to return home under the care of two nurses.
A Scots woman has described the British Embassy in Bangkok as ‘worse than useless’ as she grappled with an emergency in the last few days after first discovering that her father had been trapped in a Bangkok condo for eight days following a stroke and then finding that his travel insurance had lapsed during that time.
Scots woman Fiona Gunn criticised the British Embassy as ‘worse than useless’ this week as she went online to raise £10,000 in funding to help transport her 64-year old father Bill Fairbairn back from Thailand after the elderly man went through an 8-day nightmare isolated in a Bangkok condo after having a debilitating stroke.
In her message on the crowdfund platform (a link which you can find below), Fiona explained that she as very conscious that resorting to an appeal to the public for funding was akin to begging but emphasised that the family was only looking for a bridging amount between what she and her family members can find and what may be in her father’s bank accounts to fund the airlift of the Scotsman from Dunbar back home to the UK so that he can receive care under the NHS.
Pulled the plumbing out to get water
Her father is only alive because he managed to pull out the water piping in the Bangkok condo where he was staying while he waited for someone to come to his rescue after being incapacitated by a stroke which occurred sometime around on February 22nd.
The afflicted man spent a torturous 8 days trying to call for help but was severely restricted because of the effects of the stroke.
Emergency began around February 22nd last
The emergency for Fiona began shortly after February 22nd when the family in Scotland noticed there was no communication from Bill who was in the habit of sending text messages daily.
The Scottish man, a regular visitor to Thailand, left Dunbar on January 16th and after he arrived in Bangkok, was in regular contact with everyone at home.
‘He usually texts my auntie and his sister every day, but we knew there was something up when he suddenly stopped texting them on February 22’, Fiona explained on Monday to Scotland’s Daily Record newspaper. ‘We sent him loads of emails and WhatsApp messages but nothing was going through or being delivered’.
Daunting task to find her father quickly in Bangkok which is nearly the same size as London
‘You try not to think the worst with these things, but we definitely knew there was something wrong’, she disclosed. When she first faced up to the task of tracking her father down, it seemed impossible given the size of Bangkok.
‘Bangkok is like the size of London as well, so it makes it near enough impossible to track him down. All you can do is hope that something leads you to his whereabouts’.
Then she soon remembered that foreigners in Bangkok are often well known in small circles.
Found a friend of Bill’s using the online networking and publicity power of social media
This prompted Fiona to get resourceful and she began searching for her father using the power of social media.
She was lucky to find an acquaintance of her father’s in Bangkok who he had met in one of the Bangkok pubs popular with western foreigners.
Located her father’s place of residence in Bangkok, a serviced condominium complex
This led to her identifying where her father resided and from there, she located the manager of the condominium complex.
The woman who she managed to contact had an instant inkling that something was wrong after being contacted by Fiona.
‘She sounded very distressed when she heard that I was trying to find Bill’, the younger UK woman revealed.
Condo complex manager had mistakenly thought she heard company in the Scotsman’s room
The woman explained to Fiona that last Monday, she had been going to knock at the door and ask Mr Fairbairn if she could clean his room but she thought she heard in conversation with friends.
After his daughter’s call, she raced to the room and immediately, on opening the door, recognised that something was wrong when she saw the western man on the ground and the condominium in a state of chaos.
Battered down the door to rescue Bill
The manager eventually battered down the door of the apartment to get at Bill and found the UK man surrounded in water that was flowing from where he had pulled out the plumbing.
It also appears that the man had thrown other items around the room in desperate effort to attract attention and get help.
Money required for an ambulance rescue
The shock of hearing of the appalling condition her father was found in and that he had suffered a serious health crisis was followed by a further shock when Fiona was informed that an ambulance from a private hospital could not respond to her father’s situation without payment of £500.
She then established that care for her father would cost from £1,000 to $5,000 per day.
Ms Gunn went to work on another challenge to bring her father home and get him medical treatment
Facing another challenge, Ms Gunn went to work on putting together a rescue plan for her father and costing out what was involved.
While doing this, she reached out to her father’s health coverage provider RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) only to find that travel insurance cover which automatically applies to all travel outside the United Kingdom was limited to 31 days if not negotiated by prior arrangement.
Her father had been away, by then, for 37 days and was on his own as far as the insurance policy was concerned.
‘I got in touch with the British Consulate, but they told me that we would have to set up a crowdfunding or take out a loan’, Fiona said this week.
Critical of the British Embassy in Bangkok
As Fiona battled with the situation this week, fighting for her father’s well being, she was highly critical of the British Embassy and the support that they offer in the Thai capital.
‘The embassy have been worse than useless as they told me to take a loan, sorry what bank would lend me £30k?’
Her comments are similar to other UK nationals who have found themselves in crisis in Thailand. Many have compared the level of support unfavourably to other western embassies. It is very much a laissez-faire approach.
A number of UK nationals with Thai partners on social media have observed that the Thai Embassy in the United Kingdom and other European countries is far more supportive of Thai nationals abroad.
Scotsman is making an ‘unbelievable’ recovery
Fiona reports that her father is getting the best possible care at the Bangkok hospital and nurses recently helped to stand him to greet his family back home in Dunbar.
She told the press that when he was first found, she could not believe that a human being could look so grey and debilitated, yet still be alive.
However, the family are anxious to have their loved one transported back to the UK and Scotland as soon as possible where he can receive NHS care and where his carers will speak English.
Nearly £3,000 of the £10,000 target has already been raised and many people are impressed by the responsible attitude of the family.
Fiona, in turn, has said she is overwhelmed and grateful for the generosity shown to her father from complete strangers in recent days
Bill has just received clearance to fly home
The UK man has just received certification, in the last 24 hours, that he is fit to travel from Thailand.
Fiona says she can not believe the ‘unbelievable’ improvement in her father’s health following the expert and attentive medical treatment he has received in the private Bangkok hospital.
The £29,000 airlift will see Bill, accompanied by 2 nurses, soon on his way home to Dunbar, a town on North Sea coast in East Lothian located in the South-east of Scotland.