After testing positive for Covid-19 and admitting into critical care, Singaporean mum, Mdm Lee Sock Lee, stressed on why we should not take the virus lightly and urged everybody to get vaccinated.
On the morning of September 13, Mdm Lee tested positive for Covid-19 using a self-administered antigen rapid test (ART) kit. While she felt well enough to visit a Swab and Send Home clinic, she was unaware that she would soon be fighting for her life.
Why You Should Get Vaccinated: Covid-19 Patient Shares Near-Death Experience
The 43-year-old housewife had no pre-existing health conditions even while unvaccinated. But when she felt tired and fatigued for days, she decided to test herself for Covid-19.
After she tested positive for the virus, she initially thought she would only get mild symptoms like most people. But that wasn’t to be.
She told local media outlet that while she was not vaccinated, she still followed through with “all the precautions.”
“I wasn’t aware I was so badly ill. I wasn’t aware I was going to die,” she told journalists on Thursday (28 October), as per CNA.
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Being brought to the hospital
Less than 24 hours later, Mdm Lee was taken to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital in an ambulance. She barely remembers anything on the way to the hospital. But she did recall that she was calling her husband to settle some financial issues.
She adds, “I (also) recall a conversation between the hospital nurse and the ambulance paramedic. After that it’s kind of fuzzy, I was in and out.”
Mdm Lee did not expect she would soon after be lying unconscious in the hospital–on life support–due to a failing heart.
On the verge of cardiovascular collapse
Arriving at the hospital, the doctors decided to hook her up to an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine or ECMO machine to save her life.
ECMO removes blood from the patient, removes carbon dioxide, adds oxygen and then pumps the blood back in. It is a form of life support that functions as an artificial lung or heart.
Assistant Professor Ramanathan K R, a senior consultant at the National University Heart Centre’s department of cardiac thoracic and vascular surgery says, “She got worse clinically and had to be rushed to the ICU. In the ICU, her condition worsened that she needed to be put on a ventilator.”
Despite being put on a ventilator, Ms Lee’s heart function was so poor “to the point that despite being on medications for her so-called heart failure, the heart wouldn’t improve.”
“She would have otherwise died, had it not been for ECMO. I think that ECMO was life-saving in her instance,” he adds.
Recovering From Heart Problems Brought Upon By Covid-19 Infection
According to Asst Prof Ramanathan, they managed to figure out that her heart was barely contracting and that it was beating very poorly. But the ECMO support was helping her “meet the oxygen requirements for her body’s tissues.”
It was after some test that their team found that her heart condition was due to her having contracted Covid-19 which was “quite rare.”
Mdm Lee’s heart started to recover as she remained hooked up to the machine for four days. The hospital also continued to treat her for Covid-19. She was in the hospital for a total of 22 days.
When she eventually regained consciousness on September 18, she coughed up a lot of blood in her phlegm. Having stayed long in the ICU also affected her motor skills and functions.
She could not move around nor do things by herself than usual. She shared how she had to “relearn everything”, including how to swallow and eat. She also underwent speech therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy.
Image source: iStock
“If I Had Died, Who Would Take Care Of My Family?”
When she began feeling a bit better, Ms Lee was shocked to learn about what happened to her when she was in critical condition. The nurses told her how this was her “second chance in life”.
“It was quite scary to learn that I almost died. Because if I died, I will only have my husband to take care of my four kids, and they are still very young,” she said.
When asked if she wanted to do a video call with her family, Mdm Lee refused to do so as she was still surrounded by tubes.
She shares, “I had phone calls with my husband before that, but I refused to do a video call with my children until I was left with maybe the feeding tube and the oxygen so it wouldn’t scare them off.”
Her husband and their children served their isolation orders at home while she was in the hospital. Her children were also not aware of her near-death experience.
“When I did the first video call with my husband, he was hiding it but I can tell he was so relieved – he was crying,” said Mdm Lee, as per CNA.
She will be heading for her follow-up appointment with a cardiologist in November.
Mother Stresses Why You Should Get Vaccinated
Image source: iStock
Doctors have reported that six Covid-19 patients were put on the ECMO machine at NUH, all of whom were unvaccinated. One of the patients even unfortunately died.
Being the first Covid-19 patient who needed the ECMO machine for her failing heart in Singapore, Mdm Lee brings to light why it is critical now more than ever that you get vaccinated.
Like some of us, she was also hesitant at first to take the Covid-19 vaccine. This was due to her severe seafood and drug allergies. She had even booked her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine for September 10, but eventually did not go because she was feeling unwell.
Her husband and all four children, aged three to 13, also ended up testing positive for Covid-19. While her oldest child is full vaccinated, her husband had only received his first jab.
“I would like to encourage everybody, if they can take the vaccine, please take the vaccine so they do not become seriously ill,” urges Mdm Lee.
Seeing firsthand how doctors and nurses had to push each other to take their long-overdue toilet or meal breaks, she says, “If they’re not seriously ill we do not have to burden our doctors and nurses who have to work 12 hours or even longer just to take care of us.”
Aside from warning why you should get vaccinated, Ms Lee also cautioned others not to think that severe Covid-19 illnesses can never happen to them.
“Really do not take the chance, I would rather encourage everybody to just take the vaccine. If it can help lessen your symptoms and make you less sick, I think that is good enough,” she adds.
Lead image source screengrab from YouTube / CNA.
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