Singaporean doctor who died in diving accident had decompression sickness

Dr Wong Yu Yi, 48, was an aesthetic doctor at Novena Medical Centre. An energetic and active person, she enjoyed scuba diving, photography and playing the guitar. Her husband is a surgeon, and they have three children.
Dr Wong Yu Yi, 48, was an aesthetic doctor at Novena Medical Centre. An energetic and active person, she enjoyed scuba diving, photography and playing the guitar. Her husband is a surgeon, and they have three children.PHOTO: WONG YU YI / FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - She was an experienced diver who loved the outdoors and travelled abroad several times a year to pursue her passion of getting up close to untouched marine life.

But last Wednesday, while on a diving trip in Bali with her friend, Dr Wong Yu Yi, 48, died.

An autopsy found that she had suffered decompression sickness and this was the likely cause of death, said her husband Dr Peng Yeong Pin.

The 48-year-old hand surgeon, who spoke to The Sunday Times at his wife's wake, said he flew to Indonesia with his father on the day of the accident, after his wife's friend called him.

Dr Wong was at Blue Lagoon, in the eastern port town of Padangbai, with a group of divers.

At 9.12am, the group was about 20m deep when she gestured for help.

The dive leader led her to the surface but she was unconscious by then. She was rushed to hospital and declared dead on arrival.

"They tried CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) for quite a long time, but could not bring her back," said Dr Peng who flew back to Singapore on Friday (Sept 8).

"She's an experienced diver, with about a hundred dives in her log," he said. He added that his wife has been to Raja Ampat in Indonesia and the Red Sea in Egypt to dive, and recently came back from another trip to the Philippines in June.

"This was her passion," he said, adding that she had hoped to see sunfish in Bali this time.

 

Dr Wong went diving several times a year, did underwater photography, and enjoyed visiting hard-to-reach places with untouched marine life.

While she had worked as an aesthetic doctor, she also did medical rounds in a nursing home, attending to its residents even in the wee hours of the morning if anything cropped up, said Dr Peng.

Dr Wong's brother, Mr Wong Yu Han, 44, said his sister pursued diving more actively in the last three to four years.

"She was a very warm person, and probably the best-suited among us (siblings) to be a doctor, because she was very caring," he said.

Around 100 friends and relatives turned up to pay their respects at her wake on Sunday.

She leaves behind her husband and her three children aged 11 to 19.

Her body will be cremated on Monday.