S’porean pastor hospitalised in South Korea for 3 months, family raising funds to bring him home

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A 59-year-old Singaporean man, who was a pastor in South Korea for a mission trip, fell critically ill and has not been able to return home for the past three months.

His nephew started a Give.asia crowdfunding campaign, “Help Us Bring My Uncle Home From Korea Hospital”, to raise S$440,000 to cover his uncle’s medical bills and “emergency evacuation” home.

“Fighting for his life”

The post on Give.asia wrote:

“At this time of writing he’s been fighting for his life, alone in a foreign place, for the past 3 months.”

Low Peng Hong, a pastor for 15 years, was leading a missionary trip to South Korea in October 2022.

In a medical certificate issued, Low tested positive for Covid-19 on Oct. 17, 2022.

He was admitted to Inje University Ilsan Paik Hospital’s emergency room for “short of breathing and mental change”.

His vital signs were unstable, and he was intubated immediately.

Low was put on life support ventilation but “his condition deteriorated further”.

The post mentioned that the doctors put him on both an artificial lung (ECMO) machine and a ventilator.

Between Oct. 22 and 31, Low’s condition was improving and the doctor planned to wean him off the ECMO, which was successfully done on Nov. 9, 2022.

They attempted to wean him off the ventilator, but were unsuccessful and had to be put back on ECMO when Low’s “CXR (chest radiography) deteriorated rapidly and his hypoxia was progressed and tidal volume reduced”, the medical certificate stated.

The write-up on Give.asia said:

“His condition is not improving and we were advised it is best to bring him back to Singapore to continue his long term recovery under local care.”

Small window to go home

Low has been in the hospital for the past three months and there is a window to “repatriate him home before further complications set in”.

The story on Give.asia, by Low’s wife and conveyed by their nephew, added:

“He (Low) is my life partner, a filial son. To others. he is a kind, generous, and helpful man who is always putting others before self. My husband was in Korea not on a holiday but doing what he loves best and what he felt was his calling; mission work.”

At home, Low’s 98-year-old father is “worried sick”.

“My father-in-law is 98 years old and is worried sick, he is heartbroken but because of his age we advise him not to travel to Korea.”

His elderly father hopes to see his son in Singapore before the Chinese new year.

Turned to crowdfund

The family turned to crowdfunding to cover the cost of Low’s “ballooning” hospital bill and his medical evacuation back to Singapore.

The medical bill has already totalled more than S$150,000 and will continue costing them with each additional day Low stays there.

In a hospital receipt, the total cost to be paid was 204,273,879 won, which is about S$218,023.

And there is 137,293,879 won (S$146,490) outstanding for payment.

The bill for another day in the hospital will cost the family about S$2,000, the post added.

“As a missionary, our family has little savings and medical bills are placing tremendous pressure on our family and friends.”

The family has pooled their savings to pay the hospital bills in Korea but it is not enough.

In addition to the medical costs, the family hopes to pool funds to cover the cost of a medical evacuation for Low to return home to Singapore.

The post said Low’s wife is in contact with EMA Global, a Singapore-based medical evacuation company, to help bring her husband home.

The estimated cost for the transfer is S$250,000, which includes getting Low an air ambulance, and specialised medical equipment like a portable ECMO machine and ventilator.

The patient also needs an ICU doctor, a perfusionist, and a nurse on board to monitor him throughout the evacuation.

A perfusionist is a medical technician responsible for the operation and maintenance of equipment, such as a heart-lung machine.

The family aims to raise S$440,000 to cover the costs, adding that it was “deeply unfortunate” that he did not purchase any medical insurance prior.

The campaign noted that all funds collected will be paid directly to the hospital and the medical evacuation company involved.

As of Jan. 11, S$77,470 has been raised.

The campaign can be found here.

All images via GIVE.asia.