SINGAPORE - A 26-year-old woman who suffered a seizure and went into a coma during a Chinese therapeutic massage known as tuina, died from natural causes, an inquiry into the incident has found.
Ms Serene Lim Xin Hui was found to have died of a lung infection, usually caused by viruses, which can cause sudden death. No aspect of the treatment she received at traditional Chinese medicine clinic in Orchard Road, including her massage, had any direct contribution to her death, said State Coroner Marvin Bay, who extended his condolences to her family who were not present.
On Feb 14, she had told her mother she was headed for a facial in Orchard Road. She went shopping and arrived at the clinic for a two-hour tuina session around 5.30pm. Tuina is non-invasive and done on children as well.
A Chinese doctor who examined Ms Lim that day, physician Ma Ke Jian, was told that she had body aches with a mild headache and diarrhoea. The court heard on Thursday (July 28) during the Coroner's Inquiry into her death that she had looked "a bit pale" as well.
The tuina session went ahead but around 7.25pm, Ms Lim's fists became tightly clenched.
"I thought she was stretching her back," said Ms Li Wei Wei, the masseuse who attended to Ms Lim. Her body was also tense. "When I saw that she was not moving, I called out to her."
But there was no response. The convulsions lasted for about one to two minutes.
Ms Li rushed out to call for the physician and female owner of the store.
Mr Ma told them to massage the area between Ms Ma's thumb and forefinger, as well as above her upper lip - her acupoints. Ms Li also massaged Ms Lim's leg.
They called the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), which guided them over the phone on how to perform resuscitation on Ms Lim. The SCDF brought her to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at about 8.50pm.
The pathologist who examined Ms Lim said she was underweight and that this may make her more susceptible to infections, make recovery more difficult, and possibly increase the risk of sudden death.
Ms Lim, a former scholarship holder of enterprise development agency Spring Singapore, had been due to start her new job at a bank the day after her visit to the clinic.