Alumnus needs assistance after injury abroad

Alumnus needs assistance after injury abroad

Friends and family of a critically injured MTSU alumnus are trying to raise money to bring him back to the United States for medical treatment.

Wes Putman, who graduated in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in history, was in his second placement as an elementary-school teacher of English in Seoul, South Korea, when he was struck by a taxicab while crossing a highway March 12.

MTSU alumnus Wes Putnam poses for a photo alongside a fishmonger’s stall in a marketplace in Seoul, South Korea, where he has been teaching English to elementary-school children. Putnam was struck and critically injured by a taxi this spring, and his family is trying to bring him home for treatment. (photo submitted)

According to his aunt, Melissa Brazier, Putman, 26, sustained brain-stem damage, an acute epidural hematoma and a subdural hemorrhage. Following two surgeries, he has been deemed stable enough to be transported.

While the taxi company’s insurance firm has agreed to pay part of the costs of Putman’s care, his family remains burdened by the expenses of flying back and forth to be with the Lawrenceburg, Tenn., native.

“God has been very good to us throughout this ordeal, and for that we are thankful,” Brazier says. “Wes has friends all over the world who are supporting him on a Wes Putman Facebook account. It is amazing. He is a very special man.”

Putman’s brother, 23-year-old Casey Putman, intended to take summer classes at MTSU, but he put those plans on hold following the accident. Casey Putman is a junior majoring in electronic media communication.

Brazier says Wes Putman has shown recent signs of progress. She says he is now considered to be awake, although that is a relative term under the circumstances.

Putman has responded with “thumbs-up” answers to his mother’s questions. Brazier says his left eye has been open during periods of alertness since April, and his right eye is opening slightly.

“He seems very aware of visitors and his mom’s presence,” Brazier says. “He has tried to manipulate his iPod when they hand it to him. We are waiting on his swallowing reflex to return so they can remove the trachea tube before we know if he is able to actually talk.”

The family is still trying to select an American rehabilitation facility. The extent of transportation expenses depends on whether doctors will be able to remove the trachea tube before he travels.

“This will mean the difference between a $50,000 to $60,000 commercial flight for Wes, a doctor and a nurse, and a $134,000 air-ambulance flight,” Brazier says.

For more information or to obtain entry forms for the fundraising events, contact Melissa Brazier at 931-279-0230 or Dylan Brazier at 931-279-0231.

— Gina K. Logue, gklogue@