After a decade-long fight seeking justice and compensation for his son, Chang Wen-cheng (張文政), an engineering professor at Feng Chia University in Taichung, on Wednesday appealed to National Taiwan University (NTU) to take responsibility for the long-term care of his son.
“We sent our healthy child to study at NTU, but he became brain-damaged and incapacitated. This is a tragedy for his parents,” Chang said in a petition to NTU officials.
Chang Chen-sheng (張振聲) was a first-year student in the university’s civil engineering department when he fell unconscious while playing basketball with friends on campus in March 2000.
An ambulance took him to the NTU Hospital for emergency treatment, and although Chang’s life was saved he was left brain-damaged and in a vegetative state.
NTU dean of student affairs Tu Pao-jui (杜保瑞) received the petition and said that although a court had decided in favor of the university in a lawsuit brought by Chang Wen-cheng, ruling that the school was not responsible for the incident and did not have to pay compensation, NTU staff and students had organized a donation drive for the Chang family, raising NT$1.16 million (US$39,280).
Chang Chen-sheng’s parents have refused to accept the money.
“We hope the Chang family will accept this fund first. Then we can consider forming an organization made up of NTU staff and students, as well as other people who wish to help Chang Chen-sheng,” Tu said.
However, Chang Wen-cheng still harbors questions over the university’s explanation of the incident.
“After my son fell unconscious, it took 25 minutes before he was put in the ambulance. They also did not take him to the nearby Tri-Service General Hospital, but instead took him to the NTU hospital, which was eight minutes farther away. There was obvious negligence,” he said.
Chang Wen-cheng previously filed for state compensation, but was unsuccessful.
He and his wife decided not to appeal the decision and have since taken on full responsibility for caring for their son.
“My wife and I have carried out all the care work. We are now physically and mentally exhausted,” Chang Wen-cheng said.
“Two years ago, I had a minor stroke. My wife suffered temporary memory loss and recently started to suffer bone spurs,” he added.
Chang Wen-cheng said that if he and his wife are to put his son in a nursing home, it would cost more than NT$40,000 a month, which they could not afford, as the family’s only income is his university professor’s salary.
“In taking care of my son at home over the past 13 years we have already spent about NT$3 million to NT$4 million. Now my wife and I are more than 50 years old and we do not know how long we can keep on caring for him,” Chang Wen-cheng said.
“We hope that NTU can help find a suitable nursing home to look after my son as well as take on responsibility for his long-term health care,” he added.