Man in coma dies shortly after returning to Singapore

Mr Jimi Cheong, 62, was diagnosed with heart failure in 2012 and his travel insurance coverage excluded the condition.
Mr Jimi Cheong, 62, was diagnosed with heart failure in 2012 and his travel insurance coverage excluded the condition.PHOTO: GIVE.ASIA

Daughter had raised $250k to bring him back from Tokyo after he suffered cardiac arrest

A 62-year-old man who was medically evacuated from Tokyo with money raised from crowdfunding died shortly after arriving home yesterday.

Logistics manager Jimi Cheong had been on holiday with his family two weeks ago to celebrate his wife's remission from cancer when he suffered cardiac arrest and went into a coma. His daughter, Ms Eileen Cheong, 25, successfully raised her target of $250,000 through crowdfunding website Give.Asia and other private donations to bring her father back to Singapore when it seemed doubtful that his travel insurer would cover the costs.

Ms Cheong posted an update on Give.Asia at about 7pm yesterday, writing: "Shortly after our arrival in Singapore today, my dad went into a cardiac arrest in the ambulance whilst we were on the way to the hospital. He passed away shortly after."

She added that her father had been certified stable and suitable for air travel on Sunday, after which arrangements were made for an emergency evacuation with medical assistance company EMA Global.

But after Mr Cheong was transferred from the air ambulance, his condition deteriorated suddenly.


"Even though we were aware of the unpredictability of his condition, his passing still comes as a shock to my family," Ms Cheong wrote. "Despite all of this, we are grateful that he still made it back home eventually."

Ms Cheong said she and her friends would provide more updates via Give.Asia on matters relating to the campaign, such as how the donations will be used.

Mr Cheong - who was diagnosed with heart failure in 2012 - had a heart attack soon after landing in Tokyo on April 19. He was placed on life support at Tokyo's Toho University Omori Medical Centre, where he totted up a medical bill of $120,000. According to Ms Cheong, it would cost another $120,000 to medically evacuate her father to Singapore.

Travel insurer MSIG said that Mr Cheong's pre-existing heart condition was excluded from his insurance coverage.

In January, bus driver Abdul Ghafur Mohd Ibrahim contracted a bacterial infection while on pilgrimage in Mecca, and died of cardiac arrest just a day before he would have been flown home from a hospital in Jordan. He was buried in Amman.

His family had collected around $38,000 in donations from the public, as Mr Abdul Ghafur's umrah insurance did not fully cover his initial medical bill of nearly $150,000.

•Additional reporting by Annabeth Leow

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 03, 2017, with the headline 'Man in coma dies shortly after returning to S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe