#Stayhome reads: Singapore's 'miracle acid attack baby' doesn't let his condition define him

SINGAPORE - Mr Samuel Lim grew up with an unusual - and tragic - label attached to him.

He made the headlines in 1999 as Singapore's "miracle acid attack baby", after a maid poured sulphuric acid down his throat when he was just three months old. His tongue, chin, upper airway and gastrointestinal tract were burned in the attack.

Throughout his childhood, he endured about 10 operations to improve the quality of his life. But he insisted that he is not different. "I'm just a stereotypical boy with a twist, living in the present."

In this last edition of #Stayhome reads, we share the stories of five individuals who forged their own unique path in life.

We hope you have enjoyed the stories featured over the past six weeks. If you have any feedback or suggestions on other stories you would like to read, write to us at stshare@sph.com.sg

Stay home, stay safe!

Navy man lost 3 limbs and an eye, but kept on fighting

In December 2012, Mr Jason Chee, a Republic of Singapore Navy weapons systems supervisor, had a horrific accident on board the RSS Endeavour at Changi Naval Base.

He was caught between a motorised winch and a berthing rope, and both his legs, his left arm and three fingers of his right hand had to be amputated.

But he survived, recovered and went back to work in the navy. He also took up competitive table tennis for the disabled and won medals as part of the national team.

In 2017, however, he discovered he had eye cancer and had to remove his right eyeball in an operation. Yet, against the odds, he clinched his first individual gold later that year at the Asean Para Games.

He said: "Even though so many things happen to me, importantly I still can see what is in front of me. I can see a rainbow, I can see the sun, I can see the moon. I mean, I'm still alive lah. I cherish every moment."


Acid attack survivor doesn't let his condition define him

On June 29, 1999, Mr Samuel Lim was rushed to the hospital, after a maid poured sulphuric acid down his throat, burning his vocal tract. The incident left the then three-month-old with speech impairment.

But he is a fighter. Today, he holds a Grade 9 with distinction in Chinese string instrument guzheng and a Grade 8 in both piano and music theory. And while many would consider him a young man with prodigious talents in music and language, he thinks he is nothing special.

He said: "I am just a boring person with an interesting history."


He broke his bones more than a hundred times but his spirit was unbreakable

When he was a child, a simple sneeze or a cough could snap his bones "like twigs", causing Mr Jeremy Lim excruciating pain.

Diagnosed with osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease, he was often bullied throughout secondary school and mocked for his height, appearance or use of a wheelchair. But as he moved on to junior college and university, he found the people around him to be more welcoming.

For him, being born with the disease did not mean he had to be limited in life. His parents also did not treat him any differently.

When he broke his right arm, he taught himself to write with his left hand. He also drives his own car that is retrofitted with hand controls.

He said: "My parents were instrumental in giving me the mental fortitude and emotional strength I have now."


Even without her voice, she learnt to sing for herself and others

The day her world came crashing down is etched in her memory. Ms Crystal Goh woke up one morning in April 2011, unable to mutter a decipherable word.

For as long as she could remember, singing was an integral part of her life. It was something she inherited from her father, who loved to sing and was a fan of country music.

Doctors diagnosed her with spasmodic dysphonia, a rare neurological disorder in which the muscles of the voice box go into spasms. They also told her that they did not know anyone who had recovered from it.

Despite her condition, she persevered and continued singing and writing songs. She began to volunteer at a home for female delinquents, which inspired her to start Diamonds on the Street, an initiative that runs storytelling and songwriting programmes for vulnerable youths.

She said: "Though I lost my voice, I'm now part of a bigger collective of people helping others who are struggling to find their voices."


He was a successful banker who quit at 39 to enter medical school

At 39, Mr Lim Chun Chai is Duke-NUS Medical School's oldest ever first-year student. The former vice-president at OCBC Bank quit his job despite his comfortable lifestyle, when he realised his wish was to help others.

He had switched careers before - from manufacturing to banking. But making another career change was harder, with a young family with two children to consider.

It was an ex-boss who helped him make up his mind.


If you enjoyed this week's selection of stories, share it with your family and friends as you stay calm and beat the virus blues.

And when you're ready, get up to date with our coverage on the coronavirus pandemic at str.sg/coronavirus or be a part of our Telegram channel t.me/TheStraitsTimes

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.