Singaporean with breast cancer returns home from US after 26-hour air ambulance flight

Ms Lerine Liu, who arrived in Singapore on May 30, will now be quarantined for 14 days.

A Singaporean woman diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer while in the United States arrived in Singapore on Saturday (May 30) night after the public raised about $373,000 to fund her trip home.

The flight back to Seletar Airport by air ambulance was the only option for Ms Lerine Liu as commercial flights had been cancelled due to the pandemic.

The Straits Times highlighted the fundraising campaign to fund Ms Liu's flight home last Monday and the following day her family raised about $373,000 from 3,886 donors - well in excess of the goal of $330,000.

Ms Liu, 42, was accompanied by a medical crew on the flight operated by International SOS that departed Newark, New Jersey, on Friday.

The flight was postponed from Thursday as Ms Liu's condition had to be stabilised before she could board the plane.

It made several refuelling stops before arriving in Singapore on Saturday at around 6.30pm.

Ms Liu will now be quarantined for 14 days as part of Covid-19 measures before her family will be able to visit her.

Ms Felicia Liew, one of her three sisters, told The Straits Times on Sunday that the flight went smoothly: "There was some tailwind so the flight arrived earlier than expected."

"The crew updated us on her condition at every stop along the way. Most of her vital signs were okay and she even ate a little on the flight."

Ms Liu was sent to Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital upon arrival at Seletar Airport, where an oncologist her family has engaged is temporarily stationed due to Covid-19 measures.

Ministry of Health rules state that doctors must restrict their work to within one hospital to reduce the risk of cross-institutional transmission of the virus.

Ms Liew, 46, said her sister is resting after the 26-hour flight and that she has not had the chance to speak to her yet.

"The doctor wants her to rest more first, as it was a long flight. Tomorrow, they will start doing tests and scans, and coming up with a treatment plan for Lerine," said Ms Liew.

She added that the hospital bill in the US has been estimated to be about $73,000.

After paying for the air ambulance, which cost US$231,000 (S$326,000), online advertisements to promote the fundraising campaign and card fees, the remaining $39,900 raised will go towards those bills.

Her family will foot the cost of the rest of her hospital bills, said Ms Liew.

She added that bringing Ms Liu home would not have been possible without the help of all the donors who chipped in: "We are very happy of course, because Lerine's wish to come home has been granted."

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.