A 26-year-old woman died on Sunday, after she suffered a seizure during a tuina (Chinese therapeutic massage) session.
Ms Serene Lim Xinhui was a former scholarship holder of enterprise development agency Spring Singapore. She resigned from Spring last week and was due to start her new job at a bank on Monday, the day after her death.
Chinese evening paper Lianhe Wanbao reported yesterday that she had told her mother in the afternoon that she was going for a facial treatment in Orchard Road.
She is believed to have later gone shopping and then to the Qing Kang Integrated Chinese Medicine Clinic at Midpoint Orchard shopping mall for a two-hour tuina session at about 7.30pm. But midway through, her body shook violently and she slipped into a coma.
A clinic employee called the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), which gave guidance over the phone to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Ms Lim. The SCDF also sent an ambulance which took her to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at about 8.50pm.
Police have yet to classify the case, pending results of a coroner's inquiry. Investigations are ongoing.
Ms Ji Furong, director of the clinic, told The Straits Times that Ms Lim had signed up for a tuina session through discount site Groupon. While the clinic is new, she and her husband also run another traditional Chinese medicine clinic in Jalan Bukit Merah, which opened about five years ago.
Tuina is non-invasive and is used on children, too. It has also been used alongside acupuncture and herbal treatments to treat epileptic patients.
Ms Ji said she does not know of any case in the TCM sector in which a customer suffered seizures in the middle of tuina sessions.
She said she was sad about Ms Lim's death and hopes to send condolences to her family. "We're waiting for the post-mortem results to be out. Even if it's not our responsibility, we will help the family in whatever way we can," she said in Mandarin.
Lianhe Wanbao reported that Ms Lim was the only child in her family. She lived with her parents and her younger godbrother. Her mother, a part-time cleaner, told the paper that Ms Lim was filial.
"Besides paying the monthly rent of $1,000, she would still give us about $200 to $300 for allowance, 10 per cent of her performance bonus and take us on a holiday every year," she said.
Mr Matthias Goh, director of human resources and organisation development at Spring Singapore, said: "We are deeply saddened by Serene's passing. She was with Spring for over 3½ years and contributed significantly in developing Singapore's cleantech sector."
Friends attending the wake yesterday said that she was someone who was "bubbly, positive and likeable".
According to Ms Lim's social media profiles, she was a bright student, graduating with a double first class honours degree in accountancy and business from Nanyang Technological University in 2012.