Boy, 5, requires surgery on right eye after falling head-first on metal barrier at Changi Airport T3

The parents felt guilty for what happened and suggested to change the metal barrier to retractable queue stands.

Syahindah Ishak | November 29, 2022, 06:05 PM

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A simple weekend outing to Changi Airport took a turn for the worse for one family in Singapore.

On Nov. 20, the parents brought their two young boys to Changi Airport Terminal 3 to experience the slides there.

The older boy, who was five years old, was enjoying the shorter slide, which connects Basement 2 to Basement 3.

Image courtesy of the boy's father.

When he was running back to take the slide again, the boy tripped and fell.

The incident happened at around 1:30pm that day, the boy's father, who chose to stay anonymous, shared with Mothership.

The boy hit his head on one of the metal barriers near the slide.

Speaking to Mothership, the boy's father said that everything happened "very fast".

He panicked when he noticed blood on his son's right eye. His son's spectacles had also shattered into pieces.

The father said: "He was crying and screaming.... I knew, at that point of time, that some fragments [of his spectacles] might be inside his eye."

The barriers were placed there for queuing. Image courtesy of the boy's father.

Image courtesy of the boy's father.

Required immediate surgery

The parents immediately brought their son to the nearest clinic, which was located within the terminal.

The doctor assessed the boy's condition and referred him to KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) as his injury was too serious to be treated in the clinic.

The boy was conveyed to KKH via ambulance. His right eye was covered with a white patch.

At KKH, a doctor confirmed that the injury was very serious as sharp pieces of the boy's spectacle lenses had pierced into his cornea.

According to the boy's father, the doctor also said that an "immediate surgery" was needed.

"[The doctors] washed off his blood, took the fragments [of the spectacle lenses] out, and sew the wound back," the boy's father said.

Image courtesy of the boy's father.

The father added: 

"It was very terrifying because he's only a five-year-old kid. [My wife and I] had a total meltdown. He has to be injected and sedated every day in the hospital so that they can check his eye.

Today (Nov. 23) is his third day in hospital. He will be here for at least another week. We don't know when exactly he will be discharged. His eye needs to be treated every hour. He can't sleep well... I also cannot sleep well. Each time they treat his eye, he will cry. It's very painful for all of us."

His eyesight is "80 per cent" gone

According to the father, his son's vision in his right eye is "80 per cent" gone.

"I put my face in front of him. He cannot see my face but he can see some colours.

[...]

He most likely cannot play sports again because he only has one good eye left for the rest of his life. The doctor also said that his unaffected eye may be infected in the future because there is a link [between both eyes]."

The boy's next surgery will be in about two months' time.

When asked how his son is coping with his injury, the father said: "On and off. Sometimes he's okay, sometimes he's not. He's only five years old."

He added that both he and his wife felt guilty for what happened.

"We have a lot of self-blame. Like, 'Why did we bring him to Changi Airport?' I mean, it was just a normal outing day for us. Now, Christmas and New Year... we can forget about it. It's not important anymore. We need to focus on him.

I'm also concerned that in the future, he will wonder, 'Why am I like this? Why did my parents bring me there when I was younger? Why can't I see like other people?'"

A Changi Airport Group spokesperson said in a statement to Mothership:

"Changi Airport Group was alerted to an incident that took place on Nov. 20, 2022, at Terminal 3’s Basement 2. We understand a boy tripped over his feet and fell whilst approaching the [email protected] and he hit a metal barricade.

We have been in contact with the boy’s father and we wish the boy a speedy recovery."

Top image via Mothership.