A woman from Selangor recently shared how she was faced with the unthinkable decision to keep her sick father with COVID-19 at home or risk being given up on in a government hospital
Hailing from Klang, Yvenne Ng took to Facebook to share the heartbreaking events through the month of July that led to her father's death after being infected with the coronavirus.
The 25-year-old hopes her post serves as a reminder to how important it is, now more than ever, to keep up-to-date with the latest information on COVID-19 and to abide strictly to standard operating procedures (SOPs).
"We have seen all the deaths on the news every day... I didn't expect Dad to be one of them," she wrote.
Despite the pandemic, Yvenne said that her 61-year-old father, Ng King Hu, continued selling fish at the market to earn some money
Unfortunately, a worker at the market was diagnosed with COVID-19 in early July, for which Ng went to get tested for and his initial PCR result came back negative.
However, over the next week, Yvenne said her father started to develop fever and bone pain, whereas her mother and two younger sisters started to experience headaches.
She sent Ng to re-do a COVID-19 PCR test on 13 July and it came back positive. The rest of their family of five was confirmed infected on the same day as well.
Yvenne told SAYS that her mother is fully vaccinated while she and her sisters have gotten their first dose. Unfortunately, her father was scheduled for his vaccine in July but fell sick before his appointment.
She added that he had a medical history of diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
Knowing that public hospitals are overwhelmed, the family made the decision to monitor themselves at home
"We were worried about Dad but we also knew Klang Hospital was full. And at that point, we were just really scared that he wouldn't be taken care of in the hospital. He also didn't understand Bahasa Melayu, so we were afraid he would be so alone and helpless in the wards," Yvenne explained.
However, as the days passed, Ng started to get weaker and his condition got so bad that he was panting as he walked to the kitchen.
"We checked his blood oxygen levels and it was already about 88% at that time. But we didn't have any medical knowledge and I didn't know that was already at a very serious level," his daughter recounted, heartbroken.
"The family later learnt, after he passed away, that Dad told a friend of his that he wasn't going to make it. But while at home, he still never wanted to bother us to help him and still tried to walk around on his own."
At night, Ng would be kept awake by his worsening cough and although Yvenne had helped massaged his back to clear his airways, she knew it was time to admit him to the hospital.
Unfortunately, the next day on 18 July, before she could arrange for a hospital to take him in, Ng fell unconscious
The family found that his blood oxygen levels had plummeted to below 70%.
While calling 999 and scrambling to find an ambulance, some relatives thankfully brought over an oxygen tank and mask to help Ng with his breathing.
However, when an ambulance finally had the time to come to the house, a word from the medical staff broke the family's heart and Yvenne broke down crying.
"The staff said there were too many patients in the hospital. If they didn't have enough medical equipment, they will have to choose to save patients with a better chance of surviving. Which means, they will abandon my father!" she wrote.
"The staff also plainly told us that we can choose to let Dad pass away at home, so we can accompany him to the end, because if he went to the hospital, that would be the last we see of him."
Faced with the harsh reality, the family decided to pass up government hospitals and try their luck to admit Ng into a private hospital
It proved difficult too — ambulance fees went up to RM1,000 and they were told they had to wait at least two hours to be seen by a doctor because waiting lists had up to 50 names.
In the end, the family found a private hospital in Kuala Lumpur who was willing to take Ng in after hearing Yvenne's plight.
"I wanted to get him quickly to the hospital but he could no longer walk. So, my sisters and I slowly carried our father and the oxygen tank to the car," she said.
Yvenne added that her father's blood oxygen level was only 28% upon admission. He was quickly brought to the intensive care unit (ICU) and was stabilised there for a few days.
However, on 27 July, his doctor called the family and asked them to be mentally prepared. Despite being intubated, the staff kindly helped them video call their father one last time to speak to him.
"We told him not to worry about us, and that we'll take care of Mum. We saw his chest moving and some tears in the corners of his eyes. We knew he heard us. Dad's oxygen dropped to about 15% at this time, so we knew," she wrote.
Ng passed away at midnight on 28 July. The family was able to organise his funeral after they finished their quarantine the next day.
Yvenne said the COVID-19 situation in the country has gotten out of control and asked for people to stay safe
"As long as you go outside — to buy vegetables at the market, takeaway rice to eat, or exercise on the road — you have the risk of getting infected," she reminded.
She added that many uncles and aunties at the market where her father worked at for close to 20 years are no longer there either.
"The coronavirus taught us a lesson. It is best to understand all the symptoms and conditions associated with it. Don't think it won't happen to you. Keep up with the latest information and if there's anything you don't understand, always seek for help from relatives and friends," she advised.