Nothing pains a mother more than seeing her own child unwell. 71-year-old Mdm Lim Heo, cared for her son Danny Tan for 33 years. At a few months old, Danny was diagnosed with Down syndrome. Even though it was a shock, the family cared for him and loved him deeply.
Mdm Lim was dealt another blow when Danny was diagnosed with leukaemia at the age of 6. She bravely soldiered on, bringing him for treatment and chemotherapy in the hospital for almost a year. This precious boy pulled through and won the battle against cancer. Danny attended a special school till he was 18 years old, and progressed to an employment development centre.
Danny’s sister moved to the United States in the 1990s. In 2015, the close knit family lost an important family member when Danny’s father passed away due to a heart condition. Mdm Lim became Danny’s sole caregiver.
In February 2020, Danny was diagnosed with end-stage chronic kidney disease during a routine health check. Mdm Lim felt that it would be tough on Danny to undergo dialysis. Instead, he came under the care of Assisi Hospice in November 2020 and started to attend our Day Care Centre three days a week, offering much needed respite for Mdm Lim. Mdm Lim said, “It gave him something to look forward to. He enjoyed the music therapy and physiotherapy sessions at the Centre. The staff and other patients all loved him. They also celebrated his birthday for him. “
As Danny’s disease progressed, Mdm Lim found it increasingly difficult to take care of him at home. He was restless and would complain of headache and pain in his legs and waist. Mdm Lim said, “I would get frustrated and scold him.” In April 2021, he had an epileptic episode and was admitted to Assisi’s Inpatient ward. Mdm Lim said, “The nurses and doctors cared for him. I can see that they really ‘sayang’ him.” Mdm Lim spent every night and day with Danny at Assisi Hospice as Danny was not used to being alone.
However, Danny missed home. Mdm Lim was under tremendous stress as she was no longer able to cope with taking care of Danny alone. The cost of private home nursing care was too high and out of reach. To enable Danny to be cared for at home, our medical social worker helped Mdm Lim to apply for subsidised home-based respite care.
After spending a month at home, Danny had seizures again. He was re-admitted to our Inpatient ward. After about a week, Danny passed away peacefully on 31 May 2021 in Assisi after his niece played a song for him, on the piano over the phone from the United States. Mdm Lim said, “I am grateful to the Assisi team for caring for Danny and especially the social workers for helping during the difficult period.”