health · Singapore

A heart story (and a new hospital for all our children)

Now that we have been plagued with days of haze, I have been actively and unabashedly wearing my mask everywhere, because I’m tired of having a niggling cough that’s lasted for over a month, and I’m not asthmatic but too long out there and I feel my lungs getting tight. So while I’m starting to get a sense of what it’s like being a bubble boy, I don’t care if I might look silly, and I’m actually surprised more people don’t don their masks.

But enough about the haze (and I haven’t even gotten started on sustainable palm oil). They always say that smell triggers memories easily, and every time I put on a mask, the distinct smell of it reminds me of the hospital. More specifically, the time that Abacus spent in the hospital when he was in the PICU. For us they are happy memories, and always reminds me to hug him a little extra tighter.

If you’re new to the blog, let me just summarize it briefly for you: after a very easy pregnancy, and a very quick and easy delivery, at around 16 hours old, the nurses at the nursery noticed he was a little blue, so he was sent to the PICU (and this is why I will always discourage home births!). By his 48th hour after birth, it felt as if he was on the edge of life; then we had him transferred from Mt Alvernia to the National University Hospital, NUH. By around 53 hours after birth (funny how I can remember this?), he was finally stabilized. The bad news? The diagnosis was Total Anomalous Pulmonary Vein Condition. Ssurgery was the only option. And, in the cardiologists own words,

In infracardiac TAPVC, it will be most unusual to survive beyond a week if not diagnosed and treated.

The good news?  They were confident they had one of the best teams in the country (and, in many parts of the world) to do the surgery.

So we put our faith in them, and before his 72nd hour of life, he’d just been wheeled out of open-heart surgery.

The days that followed were worrying, but at the same time I always felt assured that they were doing their best, and that the rest was really up to the boy. Just after 10 days in PICU, he has not looked back, ever. Today, he is good as new, and doing everything any other little boy can do.

And that is the story of how I came to know and love NUH. Even today, 5 years later, the smell of the masks, or the antiseptic sanitiser they use in the NUH hallways, always brings me back to those days.

We have counted our blessings many times over. To have the facilities and access to facilities, as well as the skill set here is no mean feat. We have little doubt that in a case as urgent as his, his chance of survival would have been dramatically reduced if we lived elsewhere. What if we lived hours from the nearest hospital and airports and another few hours from a hospital with the facilities required? Here in Singapore, anything is at most a 45 minute drive away. Most recently, we received fantastic news that the government’s CPF board will continue to cover him including his congenital condition, under Medishield Life, with no increase in premium. I am grateful beyond words.

And the best part is? At a restructured hospital like NUH, treatment like his is available to any child in Singapore from all walks of life, regardless of income level.

The Khoo Teck Puat-National University Children’s Medical Institute (KTP-NUCMI) is the paediatric arm of the National University Hospital, Singapore, and I was really excited to hear that they are building a new paediatric centre, because I have seen first hand the dedication and passion that the doctors, nurses, and even the valets and the people directing traffic have.

I am forever indebted to the doctors, nurses and staff of NUH and our medical system for giving kids like my son a second chance at life. And I can only imagine that they will be doing even more amazing life-giving work with the new centre.

NUH are looking for funds for their new paediatric centre (which I think is yet to be named!) so they can continue the amazing dedicated and life-giving work that they do, for patients from all walks of life, regardless of income level.

Please let me know if you or your organization are keen to donate, or you can also make a contribution through the SG Gives portal (remember to select or put in the notes NUHKids), or you can contact the NUHkids representatives, Ms Vanessa Chen at vanessa_chen@nuhs.edu.sg  6772 6711 or Ms Shirley Ooi at shirley_sf_ooi@nuhs.edu.sg 6772 5465. Donations until the end of 2015 also receive a 300% tax deduction.

Your contribution will go a long way in helping many many wonderful children of our future. I leave you with a heart-warming video (literally!) of the NUH Heart Stories.

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2 thoughts on “A heart story (and a new hospital for all our children)

    1. They are really very passionate, right?? Many of them could easily be in private already. Actually our surgeon works both privately and with NUH, which is probably the best of both worlds for him. Win-win for us too 😉

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