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Thailand: Dead Cadet’s Family Demands Answers about Missing Organs

Nontarat Phaicharoen
Bangkok
2017-11-21
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Thai naval cadets prepare to observe an amphibious landing during Cobra Gold training exercises in in Chonburi province, Feb. 17, 2017.
AFP

The family of a first-year cadet who died last month at Thailand’s most prestigious military preparatory school asked the government Tuesday to explain why their own autopsy revealed that some of his vital organs were missing.

Pakapong Tanyakan (also known as Moei), an 18-year-old cadet at the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School in Nakhon Nayok province, died on campus Oct. 17. Officials listed the cause of death as heart failure.

After his body was released to his parents, Pichet and Sukanya Tanyakan, for cremation, they contracted for an autopsy, which found that his brain, heart, stomach, bladder, as well as a lung and kidney were missing, and he had a broken rib.

During a press conference on Tuesday to respond to the family’s concerns, Gen. Tharnchaiyan Srisuwan, the supreme commander of the Thai military, which oversees the school, ordered an investigative committee to determine the cause of death and report on why Moei’s organs were missing.

“Our family is glad that the school admits that. The organs were removed, and that showed that the family did not lie,” a family member who asked to remain anonymous told BenarNews. “The military supreme commander previously said that the organs were not removed. The family asked why the organs were not there on the day they delivered the body.”

“If the family had cremated it then, everything would be gone, wouldn’t it?” the family member asked.

Moei’s family contacted the school on Nov. 8 and asked for the organs to be returned along with a completed death certificate. After receiving no response, they contacted the media.

“The family is going to find out what caused the death. Not just heart failure as we were told without other explanations,” the family member said. “We need those organs back to be able to send to the institution for an autopsy. Previously, the family requested the school return the organs with a death certificate, but we received no cooperation.”

Discipline led to hospitalization

Moei’s family alleged that he was subjected to discipline that led to an emergency hospitalization on Aug. 23 after he had been forced to stand on his head for a long time.

On Oct. 12, just days before his death, Moei stumbled and complained of pain in his left ribs during a visit to his home in Chonburi province near Bangkok, but said he had fallen down a flight of steps. He returned to school on Oct. 15 and died two days later.

“Moei’s friend showed a text message where he wrote that his heart stopped beating once while being discipline, but the doctor saved him in time,” the family member said. “He asked his friend not to tell anyone about this.”

Pathologist explains findings

Lt. Col. Narut Thongsorn, the pathologist at Phramongkutklao Medical Center who performed the autopsy, also took part at the press conference at the Royal Thai Army headquarters in Bangkok, where the military’s supreme commander spoke.

Narut confirmed that the cadet’s organs were kept to determine the cause of death. His report was sent to the inquiry officer two weeks ago.

“We received his body on Oct. 18. We found no external injuries, but found broken ribs and bruises on the right chest and the left side of his abdomen,” Narut said. “We did not have sufficient information to determine the cause of death so we had to test more and needed to keep the organs.

“There are signs that tend to show heart disorders, so the cause of death on certificate was listed as sudden heart failure.”

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