Decompression sickness likely caused Singapore doctor's death in Bali dive

Dr Wong Yu Yi (right) with her friend, Ms Yap Shu Mei, who was with her during the fatal diving trip to Bali. Dr Wong went diving several times a year, did underwater photography, and enjoyed visiting hard-to-reach places to see the marine life.
Dr Wong Yu Yi (right) with her friend, Ms Yap Shu Mei, who was with her during the fatal diving trip to Bali. Dr Wong went diving several times a year, did underwater photography, and enjoyed visiting hard-to-reach places to see the marine life.PHOTO: COURTESY OF YAP SHU MEI

Experienced diver loved to take a closer look at marine life

She was an experienced diver who loved the outdoors and travelled abroad several times a year to pursue her passion of getting a closer look at marine life.

But last Wednesday, Dr Wong Yu Yi, 48, died while diving in Bali.

An autopsy found that she had suffered decompression sickness and it was the likely cause of death, said her husband, Dr Peng Yeong Pin.

The condition, which can be fatal, is caused when pressure differences lead to gas bubbles forming in the blood.

Dr Peng, 48, a hand surgeon, spoke to The Sunday Times at his wife's wake yesterday. He said he flew to Indonesia with his father on the day of the accident, after his wife's friend called him.

Dr Wong was in Bali with her friends, Ms Yap Shu Mei, 49, and Ms Rini Astuti Wulandari, 27, according to a Bali Post report.

She was diving with a group at an area called Blue Lagoon, in the eastern port town of Padangbai. At about 9.10am, they were diving at a depth of about 20m, when Dr Wong signalled for help.

NO NOVICE

She's an experienced diver, with about a hundred dives in her log. This was her passion.

DR PENG YEONG PIN, on how his wife went diving to many places around the world.

 

The dive leader led her to the water's surface but she was unconscious by then. She was rushed to hospital and declared dead on arrival. "They tried cardiopulmonary resuscitation for quite a long time, but could not bring her back," said Dr Peng, who flew back to Singapore on Friday.

"She's an experienced diver, with about a hundred dives in her log," he said. He added that his wife went to Raja Ampat in Indonesia and the Red Sea in Egypt to dive, and recently came back from another trip to the Philippines in June. "This was her passion." He said she was hoping to see sunfish in Bali this time.

Dr Wong went diving several times a year, did underwater photography, and enjoyed visiting hard-to-reach places to see the marine life. She worked as an aesthetic doctor, but also did medical rounds in a nursing home, and attended to its residents in the wee hours of the morning if needed, said Dr Peng.

Dr Wong's brother Wong Yu Han, 44, said his sister was more active in her diving pursuits in the last three or four years. "She was a very warm person, and probably the best-suited among our siblings to be a doctor because she was very caring," he said.

About 100 friends and relatives turned up to pay their respects at her wake yesterday.

She leaves her husband and three children aged 11 to 19. Her body will be cremated tomorrow.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 10, 2017, with the headline 'Decompression sickness likely caused doc's death in Bali dive'. Print Edition | Subscribe