S’pore missionary fighting for his life in South Korea as family tries to raise enough funds to bring him home
by Gracia Lee // January 11, 2023, 9:51 pm
"As (Samuel is) a missionary, our family has little savings and medical bills are placing tremendous pressure on our family and friends," writes Jasmine on the Give.Asia page. "We have pooled all our savings to pay the hospital bills in Korea. Sadly this is not enough." All photos courtesy of Give.Asia.
UPDATE (FEB 13, 2023): Singaporean missionary Samuel Loh was called home to be with the Lord on Friday evening (Feb 10), about a month after being flown home to Singapore. Though grieved, his family is thankful that they were able to spend his last days with him.
UPDATE (JAN 12, 2023): The family of Singaporean missionary Samuel Loh Peng Hong, who has been fighting for his life in South Korea for the past three months, has successfully raised the full amount they need to pay off his bills and fly him home.
According to an update by Samuel’s nephew on the Give.Asia fundraising page, the family has activated the Air Evacuation Team with EMA Global and will medically evacuate Samuel on Saturday morning in a Hawker 800 medical plane.
“This herculean task would not have been possible without the kind, generous and tireless support of all of you. Your actions have helped make this possible and we are deeply indebted to all of you,” the nephew wrote.
“Thank you once again and we will keep everyone posted of his return to Singapore over the weekend.”
However, he also mentioned that the National University Hospital has run out of ICU beds with an ECMO, an artificial lung that Samuel has been reliant on.
With the help of Senior Minister of State Mr Tan Kiat How, the family is now trying to secure a place in Singapore General Hospital or the National Heart Centre, he added.
“We will keep everyone posted. Thank you once again … We are eternally grateful to each and everyone of you. God bless all of you.”
A trip to South Korea for a Christian conference turned into a nightmare for Singaporean missionary Samuel Loh Peng Hong after he contracted Covid-19 and suffered complications that has left him fighting for his life in a foreign land.
Samuel, who is an elder at Streams of Grace Church and has affiliations to Taipei Full Gospel Church, was in the country for Pentecostal World Fellowship in October when tragedy struck.
Now, his family has taken to crowdfunding website Give.Asia to raise $440,000, which will help to pay off his hefty medical bills and bring him home to Singapore before his condition worsens.
A miracle he’s still alive, say doctors
Speaking to Salt&Light in Mandarin over the phone, his wife, Jasmine Loh, 58, shared that Samuel was getting ready for his flight back home to Singapore when he tested positive for Covid-19.
“Doctors said that he should have died then and it was a miracle that they managed to save him.”
As a result, he missed his flight and had to be quarantined alone in a hotel room. Things seemed to be going fine at first, with Samuel keeping in frequent contact with his wife. But shortly after, he stopped responding.
Worried, Jasmine asked a friend in Korea to check in on him. That was when Samuel, who turns 60 this June, was found unconscious in his hotel room.
He was rushed to the emergency room of Inje University Ilsan Paik Hospital, about an hour away from Seoul’s city centre. Doctors found his oxygen levels dangerously low and immediately intubated him.
“Doctors said that he should have died then and it was a miracle that they managed to save him,” said Jasmine, who with her husband has been running Christian bookstore Eden Resources at Playfair Road for the past two decades. The couple has no children.
However, Samuel’s condition began deteriorating, leading doctors to hook him up to an artificial lung machine (ECMO). Several attempts to wean him off the ECMO and ventilator since then have been unsuccessful, according to a memo by the hospital posted on the Give.Asia website.
Samuel has not regained consciousness, said Jasmine, who flew to be with her husband on October 24. However, she has only seen him face-to-face a handful of times in the three months due to strict infection control measures.
“He looks like he’s just sleeping,” she said, adding that it is heartbreaking to see him being put through so many medical procedures.
Condition remains critical as medical costs rise
As Samuel’s condition is not improving, his medical team in South Korea has advised his family to bring him back to Singapore for long-term care. However, he only has a small window of opportunity to be evacuated before his condition worsens.
“His condition remains critical and the earlier we have him back in Singapore the higher his chance of survival,” read an update on the fundraising website on Tuesday (Jan 10).
It added that the family has secured an ICU bed in the National University Hospital.
However, the family is unable to afford the evacuation cost of about $250,000. This includes an air ambulance and specialised medical equipment, as well as an ICU doctor, a perfusionist and a nurse to monitor him during the journey. Samuel does not have medical insurance.
“As (Samuel is) a missionary, our family has little savings and medical bills are placing tremendous pressure on our family and friends. We have pooled all our savings to pay the hospital bills in Korea. Sadly this is not enough,” wrote Jasmine on the Give.Asia page.
She added that every additional day of Samuel’s stay in hospital adds $2,000 to the hospital bill, which has already come up to about $150,000.
When asked what her prayers to God have been like during these past three months, Jasmine paused for a moment before saying through tears: “If God had wanted to take him home, he would have already done so on the day he was brought to the hospital.
“But He didn’t, so I believe that God has a plan for him. I don’t know why this situation has happened, but I trust in our God. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. I also believe that all things will work together for those who love Him, because He’s a God who loves us.”
She added that despite the dire circumstances, she has experienced God’s peace because of three dreams she has had during this time.
Every additional day of Samuel’s stay in hospital adds $2,000 to the hospital bill, which has already come up to about $150,000.
In the first dream, Samuel, whom she described as a gifted preacher who loves God and is always willing to help others, was mouthing something while lying on the hospital bed.
When Jasmine drew closer to listen, she realised that he had regained consciousness and was telling her that the doctors could remove the tubes connecting him to the machines.
In the second dream, Samuel lifted up his shirt and told her that his lungs have recovered.
In the third, he was in the pink of health, driving a bus full of people.
She said: “I believe God gave me these dreams to comfort me and assure me that my husband will be okay. Everything is in God’s hands. I believe God has already given him new lungs.”
Will you help to bring Samuel home?
Samuel’s family is hoping to raise $440,000 to pay off his hospital bills in South Korea and medically evacuate him home to Singapore as soon as possible.
All funds raised on the Give.Asia website will be paid directly to the hospital and evacuation company directly via the crowdfunding platform. No amount will be deposited or transferred to any personal account or beneficiary.
Here’s how you can help bring Samuel home: fundraising page here.
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