National Heart Centre raised more than $750,000 at first charity gala

SINGAPORE - The National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS) raised $764,950 at its first charity gala held on Friday.

Half of the money raised will go to helping needy patients while the other half will be channelled to cardiovascular research.

Minister for Defence, Dr Ng Eng Hen, who was at the event as a guest, lauded the ethical standards and honesty of doctors in Singapore in an impromptu speech.

"Above all else, we have very good doctors who care and who are honest," he said.

Medical director of NHCS, Adjunct Professor Terrance Chua, said the funds raised will boost research on the genetics of heart disease.

"This may help detect individuals with inherited heart disease at a much earlier stage, to prevent premature sudden death," he added.

The funds will also help patients cope with the rising costs of expensive technology, he said at the event at the Conrad Centennial hotel.

NHCS funds needy heart patients who have exhausted all other sources of financial aid.

One such patient is 25-year-old Kevin Wong, who was diagnosed with heart failure four years ago.

Mr Wong had to undergo surgery to implant a mechanical heart, powered by two batteries, which he carries wherever he goes.

The surgery alone cost him $70,000 even after government subsidies - a large financial burden for the then polytechnic student.

Mr Wong received $5,000 from NHCS to purchase four replacement batteries for his mechanical heart. Two batteries are required to run a mechanical heart and they need to be replaced every two to three years.

"It was a great relief to have financial support for my mechanical heart. Now I can go about my daily life while I wait for a suitable heart transplant," Mr Wong said.

miranday@sph.com.sg