Hero captain home, has operation

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Hero captain home, has operation


The wife and second son of Capt. Seok Hae-gyun, Choi Jin-hee and Seok Hyun-su, listen to the medical staff’s description of Seok’s condition at Ajou University Hospital, yesterday. Seok, right, remains unconscious after a three-hour surgery Saturday night. [YONHAP]

Seok Hae-gyun, the wounded captain of the Samho Jewelry, is back in Korea but in grave condition after immediately going through hours of surgery following his arrival.

The injured captain arrived at Seoul Airport in Seongnam, Gyeonggi, at 10:33 p.m. Saturday night after an 11-hour flight on a private jet provided by International SOS, during which Seok was sedated. International SOS is an international health care, medical assistance and security services company.

Seok was moved to Ajou University Hospital in Suwon, Gyeonggi, and went into the operating room at 12:15 a.m., undergoing three hours of surgery for his multiple injuries.

“[Seok] was in very grave condition” hospital director Ryu Hee-sug said after the operation. “Things could have taken a turn for the worse had he stayed in Oman for a few more days. It was an appropriate decision to bring him to Korea for the surgery.

“We cannot be optimistic or pessimistic about the situation yet,” Ryu added. “We will also continue treatment to keep the patient stable. The next two to three days will be crucial to his recovery.”

The director said discharged matter had been removed from a large infected area on Seok’s right side where he was shot. Seok’s entire right side, from his armpit to his right thigh, was severely infected, resulting in skin and muscle necrosis.

Surgeons removed two bullets from each leg and removed a foreign substance found 15 centimeters (5.9 inches) above his left wrist, which fractured after a bullet went through it.

Seok also sustained comminuted fractures on his left thigh and a compound fracture above his right knee from being shot. Seok’s liver and large intestine were also found to have been ruptured from gunshots.

The captain is suffering from various complications from his infections, including blood poisoning and disseminated intravascular coagulation, or clots in blood vessels all over the body.

Seok also has a low platelet count and is running a fever of 38.3 degrees Celsius (100.9 degrees Fahrenheit) as of 4:40 p.m. yesterday.

The hospital said that Seok needs several more operations, but an exact schedule has not been set. Fragments of bullets remain in Seok’s body, Ryu said, which the hospital will have to remove later on. The medical staff was unable to answer how many bullets remain in the captain’s body.

Four bullets have been extracted from Seok, and the hospital reported that they found six entry points.

Ryu said that Seok’s condition had not worsened 12 hours after the surgery.

“Seeing the overall results, it has been determined that Seok’s major organs will not deteriorate any further,” he said.

Ajou University Hospital was selected to treat Seok because of its specialization in external injuries. And the Ministry of Health and Welfare tabbed the hospital as a special facility for traumatic external injuries last April, along with 35 other hospitals in Korea.

Meanwhile, Seok’s wife and second son arrived at the hospital from Oman yesterday afternoon to visit the captain, who was still unconscious.

“Yeobo, get up,” sobbed Choi Jin-hee, Seok’s wife. “You’re in Korea now as you hoped.”

His son, Hyun-su, was comparatively calm, saying that the doctors had told him that his father was “fighting harder with willpower greater than most.”

Seok’s parents, who have their own medical problems, have been praying for their son from afar in Seok’s hometown of Miryang, South Gyeongsang, where 40 of the 60 households have families with the surname Seok. Banners encouraging the captain’s recovery have been hung all over town.

“I am frustrated because I don’t know anything else other than what the television news has been telling me,” said Seok’s father, Seok Rok-sik, 83. “I want to meet my son immediately ... but I am a patient with high blood pressure and inner organ problems so I can’t go that easily.”

Seok’s mother, Sohn Yang-ja, 79, has been suffering from Parkinson’s disease for three years.

“I cannot sleep at night for fear of something happening to my son,” she said, dabbing her damp eyes. “How much he must be hurting. I think I would feel a little better if I were able to see my son, well and alive, even once.”

By Christine Kim [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]

Related Korean Article [중앙일보]

석 선장 허벅지서 총알 2개 빼내 … 패혈증 악화 멈춰
국내서 3시간10분 수술

“여보, 깨어만 나세요. 당신이 바라던 대한민국이에요.”

울음소리가 새어 나올까 봐 입을 막은 손수건이 이내 축축해졌다. 울음소리는 삼킬 수 있어도 눈물까지 가둬둘 수는 없었다. 아내는 창백한 남편의 얼굴을 연방 쓰다듬었다. ‘아덴만의 영웅’ 삼호주얼리호 석해균(58) 선장의 아내 최진희(58)씨는 남편의 고통을 나눌 수만 있다면 기꺼이 자신을 내어주고 싶었다. 석 선장은 지난해 12월 8일 삼호주얼리호를 타고 부산 작전항을 떠난 지 52일 만에 고국으로 돌아왔다. 그러나 그의 발은 아직 고국 땅을 힘차게 내딛지 못했다.

최씨와 아들 현수(30)씨는 29일 석 선장과는 별도로 오만 현지에서 두바이를 거쳐 30일 오후 12시30분쯤 인천공항을 통해 귀국했다. 이들은 공항에 도착하자마자 수원의 아주대병원으로 달려와 석 선장을 중환자실에서 면회했다. 가족들은 이 병원 VIP실에 머물고 있다.

이보다 앞서 석 선장은 29일 국제 응급의료단체인 인터내셔널SOS의 구급항공기를 이용해 서울공항에 도착해 오후 11시35분쯤 아주대병원으로 긴급 후송됐다. 이명박 대통령은 주치의를 직접 보내 석 선장의 치료를 도왔다. 경찰은 석 선장이 신속히 병원에 도착할 수 있도록 순찰차로 호위해 이동하는 내내 무정차 통과시켰다. 병원에 도착할 당시 그는 혈압이 떨어지고 혈액이 굳어가는 위독한 상황이었다. …

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