Elderly mobility device user dies after falling out of lift
On Sunday morning, he was whipping up a feast for her husband's advance 78th birthday celebration that night.
But about four hours later, Madam Kwek Sar Moi, 77, found herself rushing to Changi General Hospital (CGH), preparing for the worst.
Her husband Lim Hang Chiang, 77, had fractured his skull after a fall. He was bleeding in the brain and could no longer recognise anyone.
Mr Lim eventually died in the wee hours yesterday, after falling into a coma. His family decided to take him off life support when told he would at best be left in a vegetative state.
He would have turned 78 this Friday.
"In such a short span of time, everything changed for me. I barely slept. My heart is really hurting right now," Madam Kwek, who spoke in Mandarin, told The New Paper last night, shaking her head sadly.
The incident happened on Sunday at about 10.30am at Block 247, Pasir Ris Street 21.
Mr Lim was heading to a nearby coffee shop to have breakfast with the older of his two sons.
Mr Lim Hang Chiang. PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO
Riding his mobility scooter, which he started using seven years ago after a hip replacement surgery, Mr Lim entered the lift on the 10th storey and sat with his back facing the doors.
When the lift reached the ground floor, the lift car was parked about 15cm above the floor instead of level with it, evening daily Lianhe Wanbao reported.
Mr Lim, who did not notice the fault, reversed his mobility scooter out of the lift as he usually would.
Both he and the mobility scooter fell over, with Mr Lim hitting the back of his head.
Madam Kwek only found out about the fall when she returned from the market that morning.
She told TNP: "(My husband) felt pain on the back of his head and asked me to check. But there was no bleeding, just a red patch and some minor abrasions. I made him ice the back of his head, but thought it was nothing serious."
But when her husband started feeling nauseous an hour after the accident, their elder son took him to CGH.
There, Mr Lim went through an X-ray and two CT scans. He also vomited a few times.
Meanwhile, Madam Kwek continued frying bee hoon at home.
"I even told (my husband) to come back home after his check-up so we can eat together. I thought it was just a check-up, and they would all come home together," the retiree said.
Unknown to her was her husband's rapidly deteriorating condition, until a call from her son came at 2pm.
"(My son) told me my husband stopped recognising him. I started panicking, threw all the food into the fridge and rushed to the hospital," Madam Kwek said.
The Lim family spent the rest of the night - what would have been his birthday celebration - watching over the 77-year-old man as he lay in the hospital bed fighting for his life.
Madam Kwek said: "The doctors said his left brain was bleeding quite heavily. The left part of the brain controls his memory, that's why he couldn't recognise us any more.
"We tried calling his name but he was already in a coma. They didn't operate on him as the surgery would turn him into a vegetable."
She then muttered to herself: "Everything happened so quickly. It was just a few hours."
At about 2.15am yesterday, the family decided to take Mr Lim off life support. The doctors had said that at best, Mr Lim would be in a vegetative state, Madam Kwek said.
It was a decision Madam Kwek did not agree with initially.
"I thought to let him get past the night, and see what happens in the morning. But I later realised if we went ahead, his suffering will be cut short," she said quietly.
The Lims are now grappling with the grief of losing their family member to a lift mishap.
The youngest son, Mr Lim Keng Swee, 45, told TNP he was relying on his faith to take him through the tough period.
Fighting back tears, he questioned how regularly the lifts at his block were maintained.
The workplace safety executive, who lives with his parents in the executive flat at Pasir Ris, said he had noticed problems with the lift in the recent months.
Madam Kwek also recalled falling as she entered that lift - an incident she now suspects was caused by the poorly parked lift car. There are two lifts in their block.
The younger Mr Lim said he is in touch with the authorities to get to the bottom of the incident.
"It's an irony, the accident. Here I am telling workers to be safe, and there he is, my dad, getting into this accident," he said with a helpless shrug.
'I wish Ah Gong will still be at home'
TNP PHOTO: VIVIENNE LIM
About 17 years ago, he had a stroke.
Seven years ago, he started relying on a mobility scooter - a gift from his youngest son - after a hip replacement surgery left his limbs weak.
Mr Lim Hang Chiang, 77, also had to watch his blood pressure.
But despite these ailments, the former taxi driver remained fiercely independent until his death.
His daughter-in-law Wang Ying, 37, told The New Paper in Mandarin: "He often went out on his own to buy items, and for his routine medical check-ups."
The casino dealer, who said she is still coming to terms with her loss, said Mr Lim was someone who took his health seriously.
"For many years, he had been meticulously monitoring his blood sugar and blood pressure daily, recording the figures in a notebook," said Madam Wang.
At home, Mr Lim did not like to bother others.
Although the family hired a foreign domestic worker, Mr Lim would wake up at 4.30am to cook his porridge for breakfast and take his medicine.
"That's how he was - very considerate and thoughtful," said Madam Wang.
She said he was also a doting grandfather to his six grandchildren, including her six-year-old daughter.
"He was always happiest when he could see all of his grandchildren together in this house", she said.
Mr Lim was so attached to his grandchildren that when Madam Wang told him she was planning to take her daughter to China this June, he said he would miss his "precious" granddaughter's cheerful presence.
The affection was reciprocal.
Madam Wang said her daughter, on hearing that her beloved grandfather had died, wistfully said: "I wish Ah Gong will still be at home, every day."
"For many years, he had been meticulously monitoring his blood sugar and blood pressure daily, recording the figures in a notebook."
- Mr Lim Hang Chiang's daughter-in-law Wang Ying