Pioneer heart patient Maureen Lim Gek Lian

I’ve been helping out with The Sunday Times ‘This Week in 1965’ page, that looks back on news events 50 years ago. Last week, I wrote about the first few patients in Singapore who went through an open heart surgery. I tried searching for them but could not find records or contacts of them anywhere. I found the surgeon, Dr N.K. Yong, who carried out the operation, but he, too, had no idea what had happened to them, neither did the National Heart Centre.

This week in 1965 - heart surgery

Then I got a pleasant surprise early last week when one of them, Maureen Lim Gek Lian, contacted me to say she is one of the patients I mentioned. And because I had left ST, she found me through this blog! I met her last Friday, and had a good time chatting with her while my kids were in school. She’s a bubbly, cheerful lady, full of gratitude for life and the people in her life.

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In the last 50 years, she had often hoped she would one day have a chance to thank the doctor who saved her life. While he was unable to meet up with us last week, I’m glad I helped them to reconnect on the phone on Friday.

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Stories like these keep me going (albeit on a freelance basis!), and remind me about why I went into journalism 12 years go – to make a difference in someone’s life.

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