Please help me bring Eileen Cheong’s father home

Hi, my name is Eileen and I just turned 25. I am writing on this platform because I have exhausted all my resources, and I need your help to bring my father back home to Singapore.

Background

On 19 April 2017, my family left for Tokyo to celebrate my mum’s remission from cancer. In 2016, she was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian and stage 1 breast cancer. The cancer was so aggressive that medical treatment would at best prolong her life but never fully cure the cancer. She underwent surgeries to remove her breast and womb, and after 4 months intensive chemotherapy, her cancer finally went into remission. We knew we had to treasure every moment we had as a family, so my dad suggested a trip to Japan, our family’s favourite holiday destination.

Eileen Cheong

In a cruel twist of fate, my dad went into a cardiac arrest shortly after we arrived in Tokyo. My dad was diagnosed with heart failure in 2012, and an implanted cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) was inserted to prevent sudden cardiac death. Since then, his checkups had been uneventful, with no new symptoms and no further medical intervention required. He had since been on several trips, and was also certified fit to travel just before we took off for Tokyo.

Current situation

After my dad collapsed, he was resuscitated and admitted to the ICU of Toho Medical University Omori Hospital on 19 April 2017. Since then, he has been placed on mechanical support and has remained unconscious throughout.­­

Eileen Cheong

We were told that his heart was beating irregularly and stopped for an extended period of time, causing his brain to suffer permanent damage. According to the Japanese doctors, it is impossible to determine how long my dad will remain comatose. It could be a week, a year, or forever.

His medical bills are rising exponentially. The first night alone costs S$40,000, and every subsequent night in the ICU costs approximately S$10,000. We are now 1 week into his hospitalization and owe the hospital approximately S$120,000 (and counting).

Unlike most people, my dad does not have any life insurance. His travel insurers, MSIG, have informed us that we are unlikely to have a successful claim as his collapse was attributable to a pre-existing heart condition. As such, they were also not able to provide a letter of guarantee for payment to the hospital. In the absence of such letter, we have been notified to make upfront payment in cash for the entire hospital bill. Specifically, 10% of the bill on the day we leave the hospital, and the remaining 90% within the following week.

To put it plainly, we have ZERO financial help from our insurers – not for his hospitalisation, nor any medical evacuation plans that we hope to execute.

While my father’s life hangs on the line on foreign soil, we have no idea if and when we will be able to bring him home. His medical team’s current opinion is that he is unlikely to ever recover from this, and even in the unlikely event that he does, his QOL will be severely diminished. In short, he could be alive and yet not living.

Our hope is to bring him back to Singapore, where we can receive subsidized healthcare and financial aid, not to mention emotional support from our loved ones. However, our only viable option is to arrange for a medical evacuation, which will cost us another approximately SGD$120,000 (based on quotations obtained) that we are unprepared for but have to shoulder.

Apart from seeking the best possible outcome for my dad, I also have my mother to consider and care for. Being the only child, the responsibility lies solely on my shoulders to send her for her regular follow ups with National Cancer Centre (NCC). While she is currently in remission, doctors have told us that she is at high risk of a relapse in time to come due to the aggressive nature of her cancer. This could happen any time between 6 months to 2 years. My dad’s heart attack has come as an immense and sudden blow to my mother. Should my worst nightmares become a reality, there is simply no way I will be able to support both my parents, physically as their caregiver and financially.

Eileen Cheong

My family’s finances

As a fresh grad, I earn <$3000 per month and tutor in my spare time to supplement my household income and pay off my student loans. My mum is a housewife, and my dad works a logistics manager with an average income of S$3000-4000 per month. Due to a past business failure, my dad has minimal savings.

While my dad and I have managed some savings in the recent months, the reserves in our bank accounts barely cover the first night of my father’s hospitalisation. All the help that my relatives can provide will barely cover the existing hospital bills as none of them are well to do.

This crowdfunding project is my final resort as I am thoroughly at my wits’ end. We are just short of mortgaging our 4-room HDB, the proceeds of which may not even be sufficient to cover the costs that have been incurred thus far.

We are in need of about $250,000 in total to cover the cost of his medical bills in Japan as well as the air ambulance transfer, not including the additional costs that may arise from continual medical treatment if he makes it back home. But right now, our no.1 priority is bringing him home so we can decide our next steps later. 

I have only able to share my situation within this short period because the bulk of this was transcripted with the help of my close group of girlfriends. I really need your kindness to tide me through this storm. Any amount is greatly appreciated and will go a long way for my family. Please, help bring my father back home. Thank you.

From her friends

We are a group of five girls who have grown up with Eileen since our secondary school days. In the past 10 years of our friendship, her parents have always treated us like we were their own daughters. We are aware of the (limited) options available to Eileen and her family, and are trying to support them to the best of our abilities.

Bringing Uncle back to Singapore will open up options for their family as they will then have access to local subsidised treatment and avenues of financial assistance (eg medical social welfare) to ease their load as much as possible.

We are hoping to reach out to as many as possible to make a donation to help our dearest friend. We appeal for your generosity to help Eileen bring her father home. To donate, click here to redirect to Give.asia

Eileen Cheong

Reader Contributor

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