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Lim Ruey Yan
The Straits Times
April 30, 2023
Local influencer Melissa Koh, whose 21-month-old son Asher died in early April, has disclosed that his hospital bills amounted to about $700,000.
She also thanked everyone who donated to a crowd-funding campaign started by local photographer and fellow influencer Daryl Aiden Yow, who had hoped to raise money to help cover the fees.
“We mentioned to him when he visited us at the wake that we were not keen to fund-raise, but he went ahead with it, out of the goodness of his heart, as he really felt like he couldn’t sit back and ‘do nothing’,” Koh wrote on Instagram Stories last Thursday. “He wanted to help in whatever capacity he could, so he proceeded on his own accord.”
Koh, 33, said Yow handed the collection – believed to be over $34,000 – to her and her husband, photographer James Chen, last week. She has an older son Noah, three, and is nine months pregnant with another boy.
“If you had donated, thank you for your generosity,” Koh wrote. “I would like to reassure you that the entire amount collected will be going to Asher’s hospitalisation bills, and not used for anything else.”
She said the bills amounted to around $400,000 to $500,000 from this admission alone, as Asher was on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (Ecmo) for a month.
“We were expecting him to come off Ecmo sooner, but he couldn’t,” she said. “Additionally, we have outstanding bills from the second and third admission last year, which amounts to just under 200k.”
Koh said Asher was not able to get insured as he was born with a congenital heart issue, and that maternity insurance would not cover hospital stays or his conditions.
She also explained why she chose to admit Asher to a private hospital.
“His principal doctor who had seen him through the first three heart surgeries practises there and we are most confident with Asher being under his primary care,” she wrote. “His life was hanging by a thread and we couldn’t bring ourselves to allow ‘costs’ to cloud our judgment as to where to send him.”
Koh said both she and Chen knew the bills would be significant, but they agreed to bear it entirely themselves.
She said in another Instagram Story that she and her husband are also thankful for the condolence money collected.
“The monies will go towards paying for the wake and funeral, and the excess to the hospital bills,” she wrote, adding that they will not be fund-raising or asking for any further donations.
“Please support us through other means instead,” she said. “We’ll be working our hardest to pay the bills over the years and we’re thankful for any work opportunities that come our way.”