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Malaysian beautician in Singapore suffers limb amputation due to bacterial infection

A 37-year-old beautician from Ipoh, Malaysia, lost her savings and all four limbs to a bacterial infection that caused sepsis. Now living with her family she faces significant financial and physical challenges but remains determined to rebuild her life.



Malaysian beautician in Singapore loses limbs to bacterial infection

SINGAPORE: A 37-year-old woman from Ipoh, Malaysia, has lost her life savings and all four limbs due to a bacterial infection that led to sepsis.

Lin Ai Ling, who had built a career as a beautician in Singapore, fell ill in October last year.

Initially, she experienced fever, stomachache, and general weakness.

Despite visiting a doctor, her condition worsened, leading to an emergency room visit after a second consultation.

“I thought I had food poisoning,” Lin told Shin Min Daily News.

“The doctor prescribed me some medicines, but during the second visit, the doctor noticed something was wrong and sent me to the emergency room. I lost consciousness afterward.”

Upon regaining consciousness, Lin learned she was critically ill with a bacterial infection.

Doctors informed her that her heart was weak and her brain wasn’t receiving enough oxygen.

An injection was recommended to improve blood flow, but it came with the risk of losing parts of her body.

Initially, her family believed she might only lose her fingers, but as her limbs turned black, it became clear that all four limbs would need to be amputated.

“I watched as my hands and feet turned black, became heavy, and even felt out of control. The doctors said the cells had died, and the bacterial infection had caused sepsis, so amputation was necessary to save my life,” Lin said.

Lin underwent amputation of both hands on 29 November 2023, and both legs on 19 December 2023.

The medical bills, exceeding S$300,000 (US$222,900), have depleted her savings, leaving her reliant on her family for support.

Financial and physical challenges

Despite the challenges, Lin remains grateful for her family’s support.

“I have no income, so I can only rely on my sister to take care of me,” she noted.

She also expressed gratitude for her former employer’s help with medical expenses.

Lin now faces the challenge of adapting to life with prosthetic legs, which cost over S$15,000 (US$11,150) and are being paid for in instalments.

She has not yet been able to afford prosthetic hands, which would cost at least S$14,000 (US$10,400).

Additionally, she has a stoma bag due to a hole in her colon.

Her work permit cancellation poses a significant hurdle.

Lin hopes to continue her treatment in Singapore, as her doctor has written to the authorities explaining her situation.

She remains determined to find a job in Singapore once she recovers and is willing to help others facing similar circumstances.

Rare case

Medical experts, including Dr Loh Jiashen from Farrer Park Hospital and Professor Paul Tambyah, President of the International Society for Infectious Diseases, acknowledge that Lin’s case is rare.

Bacterial infections leading to the amputation of all four limbs are extremely uncommon, often occurring only when treatment is sought too late or if there are underlying health conditions.

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Once your infection progresses to Sepsis, a full recovery without damage to the body is almost impossible.

Sepsis is the result of your immune system going into overdrive to rid the body of a systemic infection. It can be thought of as the nuclear option.

If you have to take courses antibiotics often due to a chronic illness, you are more susceptible to developing sepsis. So do monitor your health.