How an 11-year-old saved her mother’s life

21 Dec 2015 

It's been said that the bond between a mother and daughter is special. Serene experienced this in 2014 when she collapsed without a pulse on an MRT train platform. She was saved by her 11-year-old daughter who desperately asked strangers for help to replace the failing battery in her artificial heart pump. 

A young mother of three, Serene was diagnosed with heart failure in 2011. Her heart already functioning at a reduced 22% capacity, drastically dropped to 12% within a year. An artificial heart pump kept her alive by pumping blood through her body. This Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) implant, along with numerous hospital visits, saw her medical bills swell to over $500,000.  

With $70,000 to be paid after government subsidies and her insurance plan (integrated with MediShield) covering the next $68,000, she was left with an outstanding bill of $2,000. This remaining sum was then settled using her husband's Medisave savings. What seemed like an initial crushing load became manageable with the help of government subsidies, Medisave, MediShield and her private insurance that provided enhanced protection.  

Burdened by the weight of her massive medical bill and through the months of painful recovery, her hubby and three children were her pillars of support and love.

Serene (IP).png 

"My Integrated Shield Plan (IPs) with rider coverage was bought before I was first diagnosed, hence my heart condition is not a pre-existing one. The thought of getting enhanced hospitalisation coverage for my family came after my daughter was first admitted to a private hospital for bronchitis."—Serene on what triggered her to get enhanced coverage.   

Serene's decision to get sufficient healthcare coverage when she was still young and healthy was the key to all of this. Recounting her near-death encounter and reflecting on the importance of family, she says,  

"Think about your healthcare insurance as early as you can. Without it, I would have owed the hospital a lot of money and it would be a huge financial strain to our family. It is also very important to choose the right class of ward to maximise government subsidies".   

With the launch of MediShield Life in November 2015, Serene has chosen to retain her Integrated Shield plans as she is likely to incur frequent large bills in the future. This also affords her the flexibility of choosing treatment in private hospitals for her family if they so desire. She is prepared to pay the much higher premium required of an Integrated Shield Plan.   

But for those who are satisfied with B2/C wards in public hospitals, where MediShield Life is targeted for; and the premium is affordable with various assistance and discounts, MediShield Life is sufficient as it already provides higher coverage for life; as compared to MediShield.

 Integrated Shield Plan.png

In a nutshell, this is a good chance to review your hospitalisation coverage. 

Consider the following:

  • Do you wish to stay in private wards and do you wish to choose your own doctor?
  • Can you afford your Integrated Shield Plan premiums in the long term?

Buy a plan that meets your needs.

#DidYouKnow that 60% of Singaporeans have Integrated Shield Plan but many do not end up staying in the wards that their coverage entitles them to?


Despite all her trials, Serene remains cheerful and spirited. She joined a support group with National Heart Centre where she still actively participates to encourage fellow LVAD patients. In 2014, she won the SingHealth Inspirational Patient and Caregiver Award. She is upbeat about the future and looks forward to return to the workforce soon and lead a vibrant life watching her children grow up.  

Handmade birthday present.png 

Handmade birthday present by Serene's 11-year-old daughter


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