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Liver surgery success for White’s charity case

I’m sure most of you remember the heartfelt story of Tiger Muay Thai & MMA camp trainer Kru Nai Rattanchai in Phucket, Thailand. In December 2010, MMA fighter Ben Pittsley trained with Kru Nai and found out his seven-month old daughter Tuptim, needed a liver transplant to save her life.

The cost of the surgery was staggering $50,000 which seems like a lot by American standards, but was nearly impossible for Kru Nai, as most families in Thailand earn the equivalent of around $4,000 a year.

Many don’t think of Dana White as the warm and fuzzy type, but after Pittsley posted a plea for help from White on The Underground forum, a week later Dana sent the full amount over to Tuptim’s doctor for the surgery.

Today, it was reported that little Tuptim is doing well after her surgery. The thread below has a full update on how she is:

Baby Tuptims thread
From: dfw jr
Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 1263
“Tuptim’s parents said to tell you that she had a checkup and is healthy and they are thankful to you everyday and its their dream to meet you”
I just got this from a friend of their family and I was wondering who was the person that posted the original thread for me about her? Is that person still on the UG?
Pittsley reponded:
From: Ben Pittsley
Member Since: 1/6/10
Posts: 10

Hi Mr. White….There were a couple posts trying to help Tuptim that for the most part went unnoticed. I believe Ray Elbe was behind them. I was unaware of them when I made my post. I’ve stayed in contact with Kru Nai via Facebook and Tuptim is doing good. Never really thought you would notice the thread or respond. That was the 2nd time I’ve posted anything and haven’t posted here since. I felt it was important to do my part and get the word out…fast! Thanks for what you did it really saved Tuptim’s life.

A piece in May of 2011 by Neil Quail in the Phuket Gazette offers further details.

On January 19, two operations were performed simultaneously to transplant a section of  Tuptim’s mother Soisuda “Nit” Pile’s liver into Tuptim. A second operation took place to transplant veins from Nit’s leg to Tuptim, whose own veins were too small to support circulation to her new liver.

Nit’s surgery lasted four hours. At the time, Tuptim was eight months old. Her operation lasted for nearly 14 hours, a deeply harrowing and nail-biting period for family and friends alike.

As the Gazette listens to Nit recount her story about the surgery, husband Kru Nai clutches Tuptim closer to his chest, pressing his cheek to her head. He reaches tenderly for his wife, placing his free hand on her knee and gives a comforting squeeze.

Nit carries on with her story.

“When I woke after the operation, I immediately asked about my daughter. I had made it clear that my life was not important. As long as Tuptim had a chance of living I wanted the surgeons to keep going, to take all my organs if necessary,” she told the Gazette.

To her relief, doctors told her both operations had been successful, but Tuptim’s condition would have to be monitored closely to see if her body would accept the new liver.

Over the next three months, Tuptim’s recovery suffered many setbacks. The most serious was a lung infection, which doctors said most likely set in as a result of medication used to suppress her immune system and reduce the risk of organ rejection. Unfortunately the drug also opens the door to infections normally fended off by a healthy body.

“Apart from the 23 types of medication she must take for the rest of her life, she was also prescribed medicine to fight the lung infection. This cost 10,000 baht per day and had to be taken for a month,” Nit said.

The added expense put more strain on the family.

Kru Nai sold almost all of his worldly possessions, as did other family members to help with the mounting medical costs.

And another good Samaritan, Antonio of Hollywood Nightclub in Patong, came forward to help.

For three long months after her surgery, Tuptim was kept in the ICU in Bangkok. For this entire period, visiting was kept to a minimum by doctors concerned about Tuptim’s vulnerability to infection. While Nit stayed with Tuptim in hospital her father’s visits were restricted.

The period of separation was obviously tough on Kru Nai, who lovingly cradles Tuptim in his arms throughout the Gazette’s time with the family.

Looking to the future, the prognosis is good for Tuptim. Despite the prospect of having to take medication for the rest of her life – more for infections than anything else – Tuptim will likely be able to live a relatively normal life.

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