Last month, Singapore Kindness Movement shared a YouTube video on the story of Mr Tan Wenbin, a Chinese national who has been working in Singapore for the past four years, whose wife was hospitalised at Singapore General Hospital (SGH) since 1 February for both severe aplastic anemia (SAA) and tuberculosis.
In the YouTube video, Mr Wenbin started off by explaining that only after his wife’s tuberculosis was under control that the doctors then proceeded to treat her for SAA. When her condition stabilised, she was then discharged to continue her tuberculosis treatment regime that stretches over a period of time.
However, soon after, she developed a 40-degree fever, landing her back again in the hospital. This time, she was diagnosed with severe pneumonia.
Due to this, her oxygen saturation started depreciating day-by-day and she soon needed intubation and support from a medical ventilator to help her breathe. She was admitted into the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) on 10 February.
Due to the many complications that his wife encountered, Mr Wenbin explained that as of 27 February, the hospital bill had ballooned from S$20,863.24 for the earlier treatment to S$191,947.69. In view of the increasing bill, Mr Wenbin was asked to pay a deposit of S$135,000.
He added that the rising cost has been a constant source of stress for himself and his wife’s family, to the extent that they had to think twice about continuing the treatment procedures.
Ms Wen Bin’s family background
Mr Wenbin narrates that his wife was born in a middle-class family in mainland China. Her father had a stroke last year and is still recovering from it. Her mother is a housewife, while her younger brother is 19 years old and still studying in high school. Her father is the sole breadwinner of the family and runs his own retail shop selling fertilizer.
Mr Wenbin explained that his wife’s father had sent his savings of 500000 CNY (S$100,000) to alleviate the medical costs. However, the funds were insufficient for the current bill. From this amount, Mr Wenbin says a sum of $59,786 was used to pay for the cost of the remaining hospitalisation.
Given the situation, Mr Wenbin is of the opinion that his wife be taken back to China for treatment once she is stable enough to make the trip. As the cost of SAA treatment here is too high for them, they are hoping to start the required treatment upon returning to China.
Mr Wenbin describes his wife as a kind and warm person. Unfortunately, she was unable to find a job in Singapore. In the last two years, Mr Wenbin adds, she had started online blogging where she shared travel tips with netizens on XiaoHongShu (a social media platform in China).
Prior to being admitted in the intensive care unit, Mr Wenbin recounts that she had wanted to participate in charitable campaigns once she recovered from her pneumonia and SAA.
Mr Wenbin explains that due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak, it has become impossible for his wife’s family to visit her in Singapore. They remain worried-sick about her and are only able to see her via daily video calls.
“I cannot begin to describe how sad I was when I saw her wearing the breathing tube for the first time. She is only 29 years old – why would a serious illness come to her?” he said.
Meanwhile, the GiveAsia organisation has begun a campaign to raise a sum of S$200,000 to help the couple. As of today, a total of S$83,835 has been raised from the contributions of 711 people.
The campaign page has also received kind support and donations from generous Singaporeans.
One anonymous donor commented, “I don’t know you guys but a friend shared this and to be honest I never really donate to things. But this touched me. I’m not sure $100 will be that much help but hopefully every little helps. Best of luck to you and your wife x stay strong”.
“I know how helpless it feels to see your loved ones struggling in hospital,” wrote another anonymous donor, who contributed S$10,000.
Last Friday (6 March), Mr Gan Chang, the person who started the fundraising campaign, has updated the campaign page with reports of Ms Wenbin showing major improvements from the last five days of treatment. She has since been transferred to a normal ward and is only in need of 3L/min oxygen support.
Mr Gan Chang added, “It’s not easy to facing all those but with your help, we believe we can come through this!”
Those who wish to make contributions to the couple may do so through their campaign page on the GiveAsia site.