"We Told Him We're Waiting For Him To Come Home" – Woman Shares Dad's Battle With COVID-19

Maxy Chan said her father received his second dose of Sinovac on 22 June before his passing on 17 July.

Cover image via Aly Song/Reuters via World Economic Forum & AFP via New Straits Times

Subscribe to our Telegram channel for our latest stories and breaking news.

A woman's post detailing the ordeal she and her family faced after they were infected with COVID-19 — which led to her father's demise — has reminded thousands of netizens of the terror of the virus

In a 10-slide carousel post published on Instagram yesterday, 4 August, Maxy Chan recounted the 12-day ordeal that began on 5 July when her father started developing a fever and discomfort in his throat.

Chan said her father was 68 years old and had received two doses of Sinovac by 22 June. She and both her parents lived together, while her brother and sister lived elsewhere separately.

After learning that he had fallen ill, her father drove himself to a drive-through centre to undergo a Rapid Antigen Kit (RTK) test. Chan said the result came back positive.

Following that, Chan and her mother took RTK tests as well and the results came back negative. They then moved to her sister's place so that her father could practise self-quarantine at home.

"We spent a night there (sister's place). My brother and his girlfriend didn't want to take RTK test and took PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test," she wrote in the 2,197-word post.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via AP Newsroom via Astro Awani

On 7 July, Chan's brother suggested that she and her mother take PCR tests as they were said to have higher accuracy

To their surprise, they tested positive for COVID-19 on the next day after quarantining in a room — this time at her brother's place.

"My sister and brother-in-law fetched us home to quarantine with my dad, and they immediately took PCR test. After making home quarantine arrangements, my parents and I started quarantining in separate rooms, while I would take care of the household, like putting food at their doors, doing laundry, and throwing rubbish at [the] gate. My brother started quarantining in his house," she said.

After three days of back and forth between houses, on 9 July, Chan and her parents managed to gain some stability back in life while quarantining at their home.

"My sister's and brother-in-law's PCR results came out negative. My dad's fever [was] gone after taking [Panadol] for the past few days. His SpO2 reading (Blood Oxygen Level) had been fine since the day he was tested positive. A healthy SpO2 is within 95 to 99. But my dad started having hiccups that seemed impossible to stop. He also told us that he felt very tired," she said.

She noted that monitoring SpO2 reading is essential for a COVID-19 patient.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via UW Medicine

On 10 July, Chan fetched her father to a centre to get his 'pink band' as she feared that her father could not drive due to his fatigue

They were late to their appointment as her father had diarrhoea.

"When he came out from his room, he moved very weakly and slowly, to me he looked like a person who has [a] stroke. He was physically very weak, and took around five minutes to get in and out [of] the car," she continued.

"When the frontliner saw my dad, she also said my dad moved like someone has [a] stroke and expressed her concern. Despite this, my dad's body temperature was fine, SpO2 was fine, but his blood pressure was incredibly high at 180, although he never had high blood pressure before. My dad expressed to the frontliner he felt very tired."

"The frontliner told me to continue closely monitoring my dad's SpO2 at home. If it's 94 or lower, immediately send him to hospital. And we went home."

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via AFP via The Straits Times

Once they were home, Chan's predicament escalated after she noticed her father stopped picking up her mother's calls

"After I finished my shower, mom called me and said dad had not been picking up her calls again," she related.

"For the past two days my dad had been low responsive (sic) to our calls and messages, he said he was tired and we thought he was most likely resting. But usually after two to three calls, he would pick up. This time we thought probably he was still showering. After drying my hair, I called him a few times, still not answered (sic)."

This time, I didn't have a good feeling.

"I opened my dad's door slightly and checked on him, he responded that he's still in [the] shower. The bathroom door was opened, and I peeped inside."

What she saw shocked her and it left her wondering how she could help

"I saw my dad lying naked on the bathroom floor. There was no blood and he was still conscious. He didn't notice I saw him. I didn't know how long he had been lying there. I was shocked and went out to calm myself," she said.

"After a few breaths, I opened the door again. And asked: 'Are you sure you can shower yourself? Is everything alright?' He replied: 'Yes, I can.'"

Insisting on helping her father, she told her father what she saw before approaching him to help him sit straight.

"Because he was heavy, I slipped. He said he felt almost no strength in his legs. I asked if he injured himself, he said no. After getting him [to] sit with his back lying against the wall, I immediately went back to my room to call my siblings and [call] 999," she said.

"I got back to my dad. He kept trying to get up to shower. I convinced him to rest for another 10 minutes so he had more energy to shower."

"I was actually buying time for [the] ambulance to arrive."

She said she did not tell her father that he was going to the hospital as she did not want him to panic. While waiting for the ambulance, she kept talking to her father to ensure he was conscious.

"I asked him what month it was, how many children he had, I showed him my YouTube video of his favourite song and asked if he remembered where it was taken. He remembered all clearly," Chan, who makes videos of herself playing piano on YouTube, said.

She took a measure of her father's SpO2 level and learnt that it was below 94 — a dangerous level. But she lied to her father that the reading was 95.

"I brought him fruits to eat, and let him drink some water. He managed to drink a little but then vomited," she said.

"After sitting beside my dad and [talking] to him for one hour, I received a call back from 999, telling me there was no ambulance available. They asked us to send our dad to [the] hospital ourselves."

At that time, her siblings arrived at their house. They sent their father to University Malaya of Medical Centre (UMMC), while Chan told her mother to stay in the room to lessen any possible contact with her father.

University of Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC), Kuala Lumpur.

Image via Malaysiakini

The next day, 11 July, the Ministry of Health (MOH) sent her mother to a quarantine centre, leaving Chan alone at home.

As for her father, the doctor said COVID-19 had infected her father's lungs, explaining that the constant hiccups were caused by irregularities in his diaphragm.

"He also explained that my dad lost strength in his legs because he was lacking sodium," she related.

"Dad called us and said that doctor told him his lungs were badly infected by the virus and would to (sic) admit him into ICU (intensive care unit) soon. He was still waiting for [the] ward at the emergency department. He also told us that he didn't sleep well because he was still hiccuping the whole night."

"Before admitting into ICU, dad called each of us with the assumption that he might not
possibly wake up after the sedation.

On 12 July, a week after it all began, Chan's father started undergoing intubation in the ICU

Chan said her family could finally breathe a sigh of relief as her father's oxygen level had increased and that he no longer had a fever, although his blood pressure was still high.

The next day, the doctor said her father had entered clinical Stage 5 of COVID-19 — the highest severity of the virus. According to MOH, a Stage-5 patient is someone in critical condition with multi-organ complications.

Between 14 July and 16 July, her father's condition varied. On some days, there were slight improvements with his SpO2 level; on other days, the level hovered between 88 and 92. 

On 17 July, the doctor told her family that her father's condition became unstable

"His kidneys had shut down because of [the] virus. His blood pressure came down and [was] currently supported by [the] machine," she related.

"They would perform dialysis on him and we were asked to purchase Oxiris filter for the dialysis. Three hours later, [the] doctor called back and said they couldn't proceed with dialysis because dad's blood pressure was too low."

"His SpO2 was 76 with 100% oxygen support. He was on 100% life support, receiving meds to bring up his blood pressure. They suspected there were infections somewhere else in dad's body. Without dialysis, it was [a] matter of time for the medication to work. We were asked to prepare for the worst."

At 6pm that day, her family managed to have a video call with their father thanks to the help of a nurse. The nurse held the phone for their father so that they could look and speak to him even though he was sedated.

We told him we were waiting for him to come home.

By 8:32pm, Chan was informed that her father had passed away. She bore the responsibility to tell her siblings and mother about the tragic news, which she said was a difficult task.

"Dad's quarantine was supposed to end on 17 July, this was the day he left us," she lamented.

"My dad had bought funeral service package when he was alive, he chose to be cremated. Because dad was a [COVID-19] patient, his body had to be cremated first."

Over the next few days, her family made arrangements for their father's funeral. According to her, the mortuary company handling her father's funeral said their cremation centres were full as there were too many death cases.

Her family had to wait four days for their father's body to be cremated and that the hospital had to leave the body outside of the mortuary as there was not enough space.

In the closing, Chan said she did not know how the virus got to her family, before adding the purpose of writing her experience is to raise awareness of the importance of following COVID-19 protocols.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Lim Huey Teng/Reuters via CNA

Within a day, Chan's post went viral with over 40,000 likes.

Thousands of Malaysians flooded the comments section to offer their condolences to her family.

Many celebrities and personalities can be seen sending their thoughts and prayers to Chan, including Talitha Tan, Jinnyboy, Ming Yue, and Joey Tng, among others.

Thousands of netizens also thanked her for sharing her experience and expressed how heartbroken they felt for her while reading the post.

Image via Instagram

Earlier this month, a woman shared how she was faced with the decision to either keep her COVID-19 positive father at home or risk being given up on in a government hospital:

Many hospitals in Malaysia are operating at overcapacity as they cannot cope with the daily arrival of new COVID-19 positive patients:

You may be interested in: