'IVF triplets' reunite with S'pore medical team

(Above, from left) Indonesian triplets Aisya Anjani, Aditya Harimurti and Artha Pradipta, nine, with younger sister Adinda Rania, seven.

SG50 was a joyous occasion not just for Singaporeans.

Ms Eva Mazrieva, a 44-year-old Indonesian, was among the foreigners in town to celebrate during the National Day holiday.

She brought her family to Singapore for an extra special reason: a reunion with the nurses and doctors who helped her with an in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) procedure a decade ago that resulted in triplets - two boys and a girl.

She said her heart is still close to Singapore, as she and the family visited Thomson Medical Centre (TMC) to thank the medical team.

"All the doctors and nurses who had helped me, and even the administration staff, came to the TMC to meet us. I was so touched. Many of them had resigned and moved to a different hospital," Ms Eva told The Straits Times.

Dr Cheng Li Chang, 55, consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician at a private practice at Thomson Medical Centre, told The Straits Times: "It was a nice surprise because I didn't expect to see her after so long. So it was wonderful to see them."

Ms Eva gave birth to triplets Aditya Harimurti and Artha Pradipta, both boys, and Aisya Anjani, a girl, on Feb 20, 2006, after trying various methods to conceive.

She said that the failure to have a child was pushing her to the brink of depression.

It was the Asian tsunami on Dec 26, 2004, and the immense loss of life that made her re-evaluate her life, she said.

Ms Eva was living in Singapore and working as a reporter with MediaCorp Radio International when the tsunami devastated large areas along the coast of northern Sumatra. She was assigned to Aceh to cover the disaster.

During a visit to her home village, Ulee Lheu, she found out about the loss of 43 family members, including a pregnant cousin.

Her father, mother and sister were in Jakarta when the tsunami struck.

Three months after the disaster, she took her father, the late Mr Machmud Dahlan, to the village. Her father almost passed out when they arrived at Ulee Lheu.

He looked deep into Ms Eva's eyes and said: "We are finished. Cut Po, Cekcek, Mar, Ai (nicknames of some of his closest sisters and a niece) are all gone. Our family generation has stopped here."

Ms Eva said: "That struck me. I have only one sibling who at that time was not yet married. I got married in 2001 and was childless.

"I was encouraged to again try to have a child."

Ms Eva tried all means to get pregnant, from laparoscopic surgery and other medical procedures to traditional ways like eating green beans, drinking water blessed by clerics, yoga, acupuncture and meditation.

"None of these bore fruit. I then thought about doing IVF at Thomson Medical Centre in Singapore.

"I had skipped doing IVF previously as I knew it was so costly and the procedure would involve complicated and painful treatment," she said.

But Dr Cheng, who was then head of the fertility clinic at TMC Singapore, and the nurses told Ms Eva that the treatment would be done gradually, depending on her physical condition, and the fees could be paid in instalments.

"I wanted to make my dad happy and TMC Singapore was willing to help me. These two were the reasons I finally wanted to go ahead to do the IVF."

The IVF procedure started in March 2005 and three months later, the medical centre had good news for Ms Eva and her husband, Jakarta-based TV journalist Mochamad Haryo Dewanto.

"I missed Singapore. It's good to finally be here again after all those years," said Ms Eva who, with her husband and children, enjoyed the National Day fireworks near Marina Bay Sands.

• Additional reporting by Samantha Boh

This article was first published on Aug 24, 2015. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.