The Kids Are Alright: Eight freed Wild Boars in good health, says lead physician

General of the Public Health Ministry, Thongchai Lertwilairattanapong (L), Dr. Jessada Chokedamrongsuk (C) and director of Chiang Rai Hospital, Dr. Chaiwetch Thanapaisan (R), attend a press conference at Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital in Chiang Rai on July 10, 2018. Photo: AFP

The eight young members of the Wild Boars soccer team brought out of flooded Luang Cave in the past 48 hours appear to be largely out of the woods as well.

Low body temperatures, pneumonia, and an “extremely slow heartbeat” faced by one child have been among the challenges faced by doctors at Chiang Rai’s Prachanukroh Hospital, though as of this morning, all eight are “sitting up,” eating and in “a good mental state.”

Speaking to reporters this morning, hospital director Dr. Jessada Chokdamrongsuk, permanent secretary for public health, said the eight boys, who range in ages from 12-16, should experience “no long-lasting effects” or “serious health concerns.”

But while the news was decidedly optimistic, most of the children are still dealing with signs of infection and two have what was described as “the first phases of pneumonia,” a situation that will likely necessitate them remaining in hospital for at least seven more days.

While awaiting the results of blood tests, the boys are also undergoing rounds of vaccinations and receiving doses of Vitamin B1, he said.

Unsurprisingly, Dr. Jessada said the boys had all lost weight during their ordeal.

“As of initial examination, everyone lost weight — I assume about 1 to 2 kilos, but no one can say for sure because they don’t regularly weigh themselves,” he said.

The boys thus far have shown “no problem adjusting to eating,” Dr. Jessada added, explaining that they were started on a largely liquid diet before being graduated to soft food. Today, the first group was finally able to eat normally, though spicier Thai dishes clearly are not yet on the menu.

The first four children brought out reportedly asked for Pad Kaprao, a spicy Thai stir-fry dish.

“They can eat normal food again, but are avoiding intense or flavorful food,” he said, explaining that they’re largely sticking to “stuff that’s easy to digest.”

In addition to the infections, one of the young men sustained a cut on his leg, though no details as to the severity of that injury were offered.

Perhaps the most worrying of the symptoms described, that of a child from the second group with a “very low body temperature and extremely slow heartbeat” had been successfully treated last night, said Jessada.

“Doctors attended to him and he’s back to normal this morning,” he said. “Everyone’s well today, everyone can talk.”

A promised reunification with family members, meanwhile, happened last night for the first group of four, brought out of the cave on Sunday evening. The visit, however, was brief and — as promised — involved significant precautions, including having relatives wear masks and gloves and maintain a distance of two meters.  

Asked whether the children had asked to watch TV, Dr. Jessada offered what seemed like extremely sound medical advice.

“We don’t want them to watch the news yet.”


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