ARRANGEMENTS are still being made for George Harris's flight back to the US so his departure is likely to be delayed until sometime during the week beginning August 12, hospital officials say.
PHUKET: George Harris is set to fly home to the US next week after spending almost 12 months in the island's Vachira Phuket Hospital, recovering from a motorcycle crash.
Hal Harris, who has spent the past year caring for his brother, was looking forward to passing on the good news last night.
''George can't speak, but his eyes tell me everything,'' Hal said as he waited for a Phuket storm to ease before riding his motorcycle from Kamala to Phuket City.
''I am sure George will smile and be delighted to hear the news,'' Hal said. ''I am pleased, too. It has been a hard year.''
Difficulties in caring for 53-year-old George on Phuket grew more complicated when Hal and the hospital staff had a misunderstanding earlier this year that led to a breakdown in trust and communications.
The rift was widening until Phuketwan published an article about the hospital and George Harris. Hal read the article and telephoned the editor.
Phuketwan put Hal in touch with two US embassy wardens on Phuket, Denny Bowman and Ananya ''Rin'' Insumrun. With the help of Tourist Police and bank officials, the US wardens healed the rift and sorted out the misunderstanding.
Their intervention and assistance was the critical factor in achieving the result everyone wanted: to get George on a flight home to the US as soon as possible.
As the expat who has spent the longest period of time in the Phuket City public hospital, there's likely to be broader media attention when George is readied for his long journey home, beginning next Friday.
''I'm so glad it has all worked out,'' Hal said last night. ''It's great news that George is going home.''
Hal has been visiting his brother three times a week, and sometimes even more frequently, providing extra supplies and a vital dialogue.
''If George didn't have anyone to talk to him, I don't know what would have happened,'' Hal said. ''He had a million friends on Phuket when he had money. After his crash, they all disappeared.''
The brothers had been working together on oil rigs for five years until George's crash in August last year. Insurance payouts from the Belgian car driver's policy covered George's surgery.
An insurance policy that only cost 2500 baht will provide the 750,000 baht to cover George's medical evacuation, with a nurse, to Dallas, Texas.
Once on the ground, George's US Social Security will support his care in Dallas's Parkdale Hospital, a short drive from where his mother Anita and sister Meg live.
With everything now turning for the better, Hal has an offer to return to work in Dubai later this month.
At Vachira Phuket, hospital staff are equally pleased that George will be on his way home soon. It was the hospital's international matron, Methavee Maneesri, who initially sought Phuketwan's help.
And so into the gap between Hal and the hospital stepped Denny Bowman and Khun Rin, who sorted out the misunderstandings with some cool-headed negotiating skills.
It's not the first time the pair have come to the aid of Americans in trouble. With confirmation of Khun Rin's appointment when US Ambassador Kristie Kenney recently visited Phuket, the pair are prepared for more voluntary work.
As Hal and George discovered, real friends are hard to find on Phuket and even harder to keep when trouble strikes.
Vachira Phuket Hospital, meanwhile, continues to care for all patients regardless of cost, including tourists, expats, Burmese immigrant workers and even Rohingya boatpeople.
But as noted earlier this week by the hospital's director when two German envoys handed over a 100,000 baht cheque in gratitude, it certainly would help if more expats took out insurance and wore safety helmets.