Family offers thanks and prayers for baby's smooth recovery this Easter

Financial advisors Jacqueline Ho and Li Wei Ming with their sons, Zhongkai, 5, and 5-month-old Yikai, at their Ghim Moh flat, on April 2, 2021.
Financial advisors Jacqueline Ho and Li Wei Ming with their sons, Zhongkai, 5, and 5-month-old Yikai, at their Ghim Moh flat, on April 2, 2021.ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - During an ultrasound scan in May last year, expectant mother Jacqueline Ho found out her baby might have a congenital heart condition.

Along with husband Li Wei Ming, the couple, who are also parents to five-year-old Zhongkai, spent the next few months preparing for the birth of their second child amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

When the baby was born - a second son to the couple, named Yikai - he stayed in the hospital for about 40 days undergoing critical treatment. The couple relied on family, friends and their church community for support.

Today, the family is spending their first Easter with five-month-old Yikai at home, giving thanks for the help they have received and praying for his smooth journey towards recovery.

Ms Ho, 39, said: "As parents, this Easter has a special meaning to us as it is a time to reflect and share our gratitude for the support we have received."

When the pandemic disrupted their daily life early last year, Ms Ho and Mr Li, who both work as financial advisors, were thankful for the time it gave them to spend at home with their firstborn son and prepare for the arrival of their new baby.

Yikai was born in October with transposition of the great arteries (TGA) - a rare heart defect where the two main arteries leaving the heart are reversed. The newborn underwent a medical procedure and two major surgeries in the first month of his life.

Mr Li recalled: "Before Yikai underwent one of the major surgeries, he was in a very critical condition. The doctor told us the night before (the operation) would be very critical, either he would make it through or not. Our hearts sank."

The couple's family, friends and church community rallied around them, praying for Yikai to pull through.

The next day, he was deemed stable enough to undergo surgery to correct his TGA condition.

Even though Yikai arrived home a few days shy of his elder brother's birthday in December, he had to be rushed back to the hospital on New Year's Eve due to breathlessness.

Mr Li said: "We put our trust in our team of doctors and healthcare workers at the National University Hospital, who were so committed to Yikai's care.

"We were also thankful and grateful for the emotional and mental support of our parents, friends and church members. Without it, we would have found it difficult to pull through this period of time."

At Zhongkai's school, which is run by Presbyterian Community Services, teachers established a close bond with him, and his classmates' parents reached to help care for him when Ms Ho and Mr Li had to stay at the hospital for extended hours.

While there have been plenty of challenges since October last year, Mr Li and Ms Ho cherish the moments of joy they have experienced as a family since Yikai's birth.

"During Chinese New Year, we were able to bring Yikai to meet his grandparents on both sides. They were so happy to see him, " Ms Ho said.

The couple currently attend virtual church services and are waiting for the day they can introduce Yikai to their church community in person. They will return to the hospital later this month for Yikai's next - and hopefully last - surgery.

Ms Ho said: "We are really looking forward to the day we can bring Yikai with us to physical service, so he can meet the people who prayed for him.

"We don't know what the future looks like but we will hold on to our faith and hope our story can be encouraging for other parents like us."