Baby who had massive tumour removed in 'stable' condition; parents worry about costs

An Indonesian couple went through an emotional roller coaster two weeks ago as they watched their baby girl fight for her life at the KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH).

Doctors successfully removed a tumour larger than the size of the baby's body from the base of her spine and the condition of the baby, Jeslyn Lim, has since stabilised.

But Jeslyn still needs to be kept under observation at KKH in case her surgery wounds get infected, said her mother, housewife Novi Ratna Sari, 22.

Ms Novi is now worried about hospitalisation and surgery costs, which have gone up to more than $76,000.

Jeslyn had been transferred from the intensive care unit to the high- dependency ward about a week ago, said Ms Novi, who has gone back to Batam while her husband, storeman Junaidi Lim, 28, stays here to look after their daughter. He is the sole breadwinner of the family, and earns $500 a month.

They are still waiting for the hospital to release a full medical report on Jeslyn's condition.

Doctors at KKH had initially estimated that Jeslyn would need to stay at the hospital for a week, but Ms Novi said she was told her stay might be extended by a few more weeks.

Jeslyn, who was born on Nov 23, had arrived in Singapore on Dec 1 to be treated.

She had a rare condition known as sacrococcygeal teratoma, which occurs in one in 35,000 to 40,000 live births and results in a tumour forming before birth.

Jeslyn weighed 7.3kg at birth - more than twice that of an average newborn baby - because of the tumour.

Doctors in her native Batam were unable to help, and she was moved to Singapore with the help of the Rotary E-Club of Singapore, a humanitarian organisation.

The Rotary E-Club is collecting donations on behalf of the family here, but has managed to raise only about $1,300 so far. It is appealing to the public for help.

"We had no choice as this was the only hospital that could treat our baby's condition. We also need to make sure she fully recovers before we take her back home to Batam - otherwise, what if more complications occur?" Ms Novi told The Straits Times on Monday.

Social worker Candy Teo, 41, read about Jeslyn's condition in The Straits Times and donated $1,100 towards Jeslyn's hospital bills. "Based on my experience in social work, foreign families often end up incurring a lot of expenses when they come here to seek treatment, and it will be very hard for them.

"It was probably a tough decision for the parents to send the baby to Singapore, and this was the least that I could do to help.

This article was first published on Dec 17, 2015.
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