Pioneer in gynaecology Tow Siang Hwa dies at 93

Dr Tow Siang Hwa succeeded Dr Benjamin Sheares as the head of then Kandang Kerbau Hospital in 1960.
Dr Tow Siang Hwa succeeded Dr Benjamin Sheares as the head of then Kandang Kerbau Hospital in 1960.TNP FILE PHOTO
Dr Tow Siang Hwa helped to reorganise KK Women's and Children's Hospital, then called Kandang Kerbau Hospital, for Royal College accreditation. This allowed the hospital to train obstetricians and gynaecologists locally, instead of sending them to Br
Dr Tow Siang Hwa helped to reorganise KK Women's and Children's Hospital, then called Kandang Kerbau Hospital, for Royal College accreditation. This allowed the hospital to train obstetricians and gynaecologists locally, instead of sending them to Britain.TNP FILE PHOTO

He made historic contributions to medicine, led anti-drug abuse body, was a church pastor

Pioneer gynaecologist and church pastor Tow Siang Hwa died on Friday at the age of 93.

During his illustrious career, Dr Tow made historic contributions to medicine in Singapore.

He helped to reorganise KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH), then called Kandang Kerbau Hospital, for Royal College accreditation.

This allowed the hospital to train obstetricians and gynaecologists locally, instead of sending them to Britain, which was expensive.

Retired gynaecologist Quek Swee Peng, 76, paid tribute to his mentor. He worked alongside Dr Tow at the Tow Yung Clinic near Orchard Road, set up by Dr Tow and a colleague, Dr Richard Yung, in 1969.

Dr Quek said: "He was a great leader. He laid the foundation for many of the present practices of obstetric gynaecologists.

"He set up traineeships, trainee manuals and was very involved to ensure everyone had proper learning and teaching."

PIONEER IN THE FIELD

He was a great leader. He laid the foundation for many of the present practices of obstetric gynaecologists. He set up traineeships, trainee manuals and was very involved to ensure everyone had proper learning and teaching.

RETIRED GYNAECOLOGIST QUEK SWEE PENG, who worked alongside Dr Tow at the Tow Yung Clinic, on his mentor.

Dr Tow did groundbreaking research on molar or grape pregnancy, a condition caused by a proliferation of placental tissue in the uterus. He spearheaded a Mole Clinic at KKH to research more than 200 cases of molar pregnancy.

LASTING LEGACY

His legacy is there. He made decisions very quickly and studied the schemes very carefully, as well as spent a lot of time on voluntary work. He was a kind and affable man who was easy to relate to.

MR SHAIK AZIZ, a lifelong member of the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association and its executive secretary in the 1980s, on Dr Tow, who was the president of the association in the 1970s.

VISIONARY PASTOR

He inspired me a lot and he set a good example for the younger pastors to follow. He was a very disciplined man and very visionary. His passion and depth of understanding was an encouragement to me. To see this man who is so much older than me but has more energy and zeal put me to shame.

REVEREND JACK SIN, 56, pastor at Sovereign Hope Bible Presbyterian Church, on Dr Tow's service to the Bible Presbyterian Church. Dr Tow was the senior pastor of Calvary Pandan Bible-Presbyterian Church.

In 1964, he presented his findings in 14 American universities, and his research earned him the prestigious William Blair Bell Lectureship award from the Royal College a year later.

His work in this field put Singapore on the world map, said Dr Lim Teck Chye, 74, who joined Tow Yung Clinic in 1974 and is still practising there.

Dr Tow was among the best students in South-east Asia who got into the King Edward VII College of Medicine in 1947. One of his contemporaries was Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Dr Tow also worked alongside Dr Benjamin Sheares, who became Singapore's second president in 1971. He succeeded Dr Sheares as the head of KKH in 1960.

"Dr Tow was a brilliant man, very dedicated and very involved in everything that he did. He was interested in many things and a man of many passions," said Dr Quek.

Besides his medical practice, Dr Tow was also the president of the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association in the 1970s.

Mr Shaik Aziz, 72, who is a lifelong member and was the executive secretary of the association in the 80s, said: "His legacy is there. He made decisions very quickly and studied the schemes very carefully, as well as spent a lot of time on voluntary work. He was a kind and affable man who was easy to relate to."

Another lifelong passion of Dr Tow's was his service to the Bible Presbyterian Church. He was the senior pastor of Calvary Pandan Bible-Presbyterian Church. Reverend Jack Sin, 56, pastor at Sovereign Hope Bible Presbyterian Church, said: "He inspired me a lot and he set a good example for the younger pastors to follow. He was a very disciplined man and very visionary.

"His passion and depth of understanding were an encouragement to me. To see this man who is so much older than me but has more energy and zeal put me to shame."

Dr Tow helped to set up churches in Britain, Canada, Indonesia and Malaysia. He also started daily devotional guides for members to read, and helped to up the attendance for evening services.

Dr Tow had continued to preach into his late 80s until he grew weaker from multiple illnesses.

He is survived by three daughters and one grandchild. His family could not be reached for comment.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 10, 2019, with the headline 'Pioneer in gynaecology Tow Siang Hwa dies at 93'. Print Edition | Subscribe