Singapore

Woman would rather die than amputate legs

From the start, Madam LP - as she is known in court papers - did not want her legs amputated.

This was in 2006. Madam LP was 51 at the time and her son, her only relative, was 16.

The previous year, the insurance and real estate agent admitted herself into Gleneagles Medical Centre after she accidentally burned herself with a hot water bottle. Because of her diabetes, the burns resulted in an infection.

Complaining of a pain in both feet, she was told by two hospitals that her right leg had to be amputated.

She was eventually persuaded to amputate her right toe but was adamant in refusing the amputation of her leg despite the doctor's advice.

But the viral infection spread. Soon, both legs became infected with diabetic gangrene.

The instruction to the doctors were clear: Save the legs at all costs. No amputations.

She also said to her son that she would rather die than lose her legs.

COMA

Shortly after, Madam LP suffered from a septic shock that put her in a coma and she ended up in Mount Alvernia Hospital.

Her doctor at the time, orthopaedic surgeon Tan Mak Yong, met with other specialists and concluded that Madam LP would die if her legs were not amputated.

Only her son was told this. Madam LP was not told that she could die before she went into a coma.

The teen's father was in the Philippines and could not be contacted, according to court papers. He was not married to Madam LP.

Without Madam LP's consent, doctors could not proceed. So they turned to the court for an operation to remove her legs and save her life to be made legal.

In the High Court, Justice Choo Han Teck urgently convened a hearing.

He considered that even though Madam LP had said she would rather die than amputate her legs, that comment was "probably made without the benefit of medical advice of impending death".

The operation would also be in her best interests, he said then.

Ultimately, he gave the green light to the operation. But Madam LP woke up from her coma during pre-surgery tests, putting a halt to the operation.

Thankfully, she got out of danger and did not require the surgery. And should the need arises, the doctors would have to seek her consent again.

It is not known what has happened to Madam LP since then.