Man waiting for amputation gets $5k gift from unknown couple

Mr Tan Whee Boon, together with his wife Choong Siet Mei, in hospital.
Mr Tan Whee Boon, together with his wife Choong Siet Mei, in hospital. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MR TAN HWEE BOON

Couple donates $5k to technician who needs to have hands, feet removed due to infection

A 50-year-old man waiting to have his hands and feet amputated after a severe bout of food poisoning had a surprise visit yesterday from an unknown couple who presented him with a $5,000 cheque.

Mr Tan Whee Boon was seen at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital on July 13, following a bout of vomiting and diarrhoea in his four-room Woodlands flat. He also felt giddy.

The technician had eaten a raw fish dish, or yusheng, at a food centre in Chinatown three days earlier.

For the next three weeks, he was kept in the hospital's intensive care unit. Tests revealed he had severe pneumonia complicated by sepsis.


One of the three types of bacteria found in his body was Group B Streptococcus (GBS), which may cause infections of the skin, joints, heart and brain. There is a possible link between raw fish consumption and GBS infection, the Ministry of Health said last month.

Mr Tan was given a drug to direct blood flow to his vital organs. But the drug that saved his life turned his hands and feet gangrenous.

He will have his hands amputated on Monday and his feet in two weeks. Mr Tan, his wife, Madam Choong Siet May, 47, and their 14-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter have braced themselves for the operation.

"He is mentally prepared to have his hands and feet chopped off as there is no other option," Madam Choong told The Straits Times.

Said Mr Tan: "I wish I can leave the hospital and be back at home with my family."

The couple who paid him a surprise visit yesterday afternoon said they had read about his condition in a Chinese newspaper. "They said they sympathised with me and donated a cheque," he said, touched.

Besides relatives and friends, representatives from his employer, Singapore Oxygen Air Liquide, and the Chemical Industries Employees' Union have also visited him. His employer is seeking workmen's compensation, while the union is trying to help with his hefty hospitalisation bill and future employment, said Mr Tan.

On whether he would advise others against eating raw fish, Mr Tan said: "It depends on your luck."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2015, with the headline 'Man waiting for amputation gets gift'. Print Edition | Subscribe