37Y0 M’sian Working in S’pore Had to Amputate 4 Limbs Due to Bacterial Infection

You’d only see limb amputations often in fictional zombie scenarios, like when a character gets bitten by a zombie and amputating the bitten arm is the last resort to prevent them from becoming one.

Of course, the only other real scenario is when a toe gets amputated from a battle with diabetes, which happens quite often in Singapore.

Did you know that based on a study done in 2016, Singapore has one of the highest rates of lower extremity amputation in the world? It was reported that public hospitals here need to do an average of four amputations a day.

Unfortunately, a Malaysian lady had to suffer the tragic fate of amputating four of her limbs, just weeks apart from each other.

A Nasty Bacterial Infection

Shin Min Daily News was the first to report about the amputation of Ms Lin Ai Ling, 37, on Tuesday (4 June 2024).

When interviewed, Ms Lin shared that she had first felt some sickly symptoms in early October 2023.

Like the rest of us, she reported having fever, stomachache and lethargy and went to see a doctor.

The doctor gave her medication for suspected food poisoning.

You see, according to Health Hub, symptoms of food poisoning would typically last a day or two. However, instead of feeling better, she still felt sick two days later.

That’s when she went back to the doctor’s for a follow-up, where the doctor saw that her case required immediate medical attention.

She was then redirected to the emergency department at the hospital. According to Shin Min Daily News, she passed out after being told to head to the hospital and only woke up when she was already surrounded by medical equipment and loved ones.

Source: Screenshot of Shin Min Daily News Facebook

Unfortunately, despite getting the care she needed, she didn’t entirely wake up to good news.

Her doctor told her and her family that she was critically ill with a nasty bacterial infection. He pre-empted her family to prepare for the worst too.

The doctor elaborated, saying that Ms Lin’s heart was weak and her brain wasn’t getting enough oxygen, making her condition life-threatening.

As a temporary solution, he suggested that Ms Lin get an injection which allows enough blood to get to her heart, and enough oxygen to get to her brain.

Limbs Slowly Turned Black, Lifesaving Amputation Needed  

Nobody was truly ready to see the extent to which the bacterial infection was plaguing her.

Upon unwrapping the bandages around her feet and hands, Ms Lin and her family were shocked by Ms Lin’s black limbs. Sadly, It was gradually getting worse.

Source: Shin Min Daily News, Edited by author

Ms Lin recounted that her limbs felt heavy and she could no longer control them.

Then, her doctor informed her that her limbs were experiencing sepsis.

According to a Senior Consultant in the Department of Haematology at Singapore General Hospital, Associate Professor Wong Gee Chuan and Candice Cai explained that sepsis is considered the “body’s extreme response to an infection” and it is “a life-threatening medical emergency”.

They added that sepsis can happen when bacteria from an infection enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body.

In order to save Ms Lin’s life and prevent the infection from worsening, Ms Lin’s doctor said that amputation of the infected limbs was deemed necessary.

She agreed to the amputation of both of her hands on 29 Nov 2023, followed by the amputation of both of her legs three weeks later, on 19 Dec.

Amputations Took A Huge Toll On Her But She’s Grateful For Her Family’s Support

Her medical condition was difficult on her, in terms of her finances, her mental health, and her lifestyle.

Ms Lin shared that she had to use up all of her savings on her medical bills including her hospitalisation. In fact, it amounted to S$300,000.

This was a lot to Ms Lin (and for us too if we’re honest) because she’s a Malaysian who worked as a beautician in Singapore before all of this happened.

She shared that back then, she loved dolling up with makeup and nice clothes. Now, with all four limbs amputated and increased dependence on her family for support, getting back to lifestyle proved hard.

Screenshot from Shin Min Daily News Facebook

She admitted that she found it hard to cope with her situation. During her interview, she couldn’t hold back her tears when she recounted her amputation. She also added that she preferred to isolate herself – not wanting to see her friends.

On top of that, she said that she felt helpless. With her savings depleted and her work permit cancelled due to her condition, she has no income.

She is currently dependent on her mother, her sister and brother-in-law to care for her. They all share a three-room flat in Bedok.

Ms Lin said that her family gave her the “greatest support” and hopes to remain strong for them.

Moving Forward

As of right now, Ms Lin only has prosthetic legs, worth at least S$14,000, that she is reportedly paying for in instalments. She has yet to get prosthetic hands which cost more than $S15,000.

She is also dependent on a stoma bag to excrete waste.

Since her discharge in January, Ms Lin said that she is still adapting to her new life and is immensely grateful to her family and her former boss.

Apparently, the salon she had previously worked for had helped cover part of her expenses. Due to her cancelled work permit, she doesn’t work there anymore and may have to go back to her home in Malaysia.

However, since she was first treated in Singapore and her follow-up appointments are here too, her doctor has written an appeal to the authorities to explain her situation.

Ms Lin expressed hope to continue being treated in Singapore, and continue working here after she adapts and recovers.