The family of a Portadown man who was stranded in Thailand after a serious road accident have spoken of the ordeal and warned other travellers to be careful when taking out insurance.
Darren Vogan (33) broke both legs and suffered injuries to the rest of his body when a truck smashed into his moped in Thailand in July.
However, Darren, who had been working there as a teacher since the New Year, was unable to return home for eight weeks and was left with a £25,000 bill for medical and travel costs after he was told his insurance had expired.
The son of Portadown Fireplaces owners Geoffrey and Collette Vogan, Darren has now returned home to Portadown but is facing more surgery at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.
His mum Collette explained, “His right leg will have to be rebuilt and the other leg has to be pinned so he will have both legs in a cast.
“They don’t know when they are going to do it as they have to wait for the wound to heal first - he had a hole the size of a fist below his knee.
“Darren isn’t allowed to walk, he can’t even get into the car, so he is tied to the house. We have a hospital bed and a commode and we have a district nurse and occupational therapists coming and going.”
Darren, who was helped through the ordeal by his Thai girlfriend Amorat, is lucky to have survived the crash which left his right leg “hanging on by a thread”.
In fact, doctors were initially going to amputate the limb but his girlfriend objected and had him moved to another hospital.
There, they managed to save his leg but revealed that infection had set in and he came close to dying.
And it was in hospital that Darren discovered that his insurance policy didn’t cover the treatment. He said, “I didn’t realise I was supposed to renew the policy every month. And the insurance provided by my work didn’t cover me either. I hadn’t read the small print.”
After four weeks in hospital, Darren arrived at the airport with a ‘fit to fly’ certificate from doctors but airline staff wouldn’t let him on board as they didn’t think he was well enough.
Instead, he returned to hospital and it was a further four weeks, and much organisation later, before he was able to board a plane home.
His mum Collette said, “It was such a shock for us and we were desperate to get him home. We tried everything including the British Embassy but all they could do was provide a translator.
“It was very difficult financially as the hospital bill had to be paid weekly. The guy in the truck had no insurance so Darren won’t get any compensation for his injuries.
“The doctors have told him that his right leg will probably never be the same again.”
Darren, a keen Manchester United fan, is taking every day as it comes and despite all that has happened is not ruling out a return to Thailand.