Doctor feared the worst when wife had fever too

CARDIOLOGIST Daniel Yeo, 39, feared the worst when, just after he became infected with Sars, his wife also came down with a fever.

She was warded in a room next to Dr Yeo at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH).

Their children - a boy and a girl - were just three and one then.

Aside from the possibility that the children could lose both their parents, both husband and wife were scared that the kids would be infected too.

"But we prayed a lot, and are thankful they were okay," said Dr Yeo.

It turned out that his wife did not have Sars, but dengue fever - a prospect which seems dire now but was a welcome relief back then.

Dr Yeo, then a 29-year-old medical officer, was one of a group of 16 people who contracted Sars from a "super-infector" who had been admitted to the coronary care unit at TTSH.

Among those infected was the first hospital worker to succumb to the deadly virus, Dr Ong Hok Su, 27, a medical officer.

A few days after Dr Ong fell sick, Dr Yeo developed a fever.

He describes the feeling of being diagnosed with Sars as "surreal".

"I went from being in control of my destiny, to realising that things were now out of my hands," he said.

Dr Yeo continues to practise at TTSH, where he is now head of the heart failure service.

His brush with Sars has heightened his sense of public service.

"When you've been given a second lease of life, you want it to have greater meaning," he said.

"I think there is a greater inclination towards making a difference with what I have now, not just to think of what I want, but how I can be of service."

To him, the N95 mask is the most visible symbol of the epidemic that swept Singapore and the world a decade ago.

"It was something that was uncomfortable but protected you.

"It was suffocating, but we could not do our work without it," he said.

MELISSA PANG