SINGAPORE: A 26-year-old pregnant woman who had to undergo an emergency caesarean section due to preeclampsia, delivering her baby at just 25 weeks of gestation, is now facing exorbitant medical fees after she was rejected in applying for maternity insurance and as her son is not insured. The premature baby boy, now over three months old, faces a prolonged hospital stay estimated to be at least 163 days due to health complications.

26-year-old Ms Xu, a human resources professional and her 26-year-old husband, a clerk, eagerly anticipated the arrival of their first child. However, their joy turned to concern when Ms Xu fell ill on August 28. Swelling in her face and legs prompted her admission to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with preeclampsia, a serious pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine.

The premature baby, weighing only 800 grams at birth, faced immediate challenges with his heart and lungs. Diagnosed with patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), a congenital heart disease, the infant underwent surgery a month after birth. With underdeveloped lungs, he requires respiratory assistance, and his tiny body is covered in tubes.

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Ms Xu and her husband were only able to hold their son a week after his operation. The emotional reunion was marred by the fragility of the infant’s health, a stark reminder of the challenges he faces at such a tender age.

Preeclampsia, affecting three to five out of every 100 pregnant women in Asia and Singapore, not only poses risks to the mother’s organs but can also impact the fetus significantly.

The financial burden adds another layer of stress for the young couple, with an estimated hospitalization cost ranging from $160,000 to $195,483 after government subsidies and personal savings.

Ms Xu told Lianhe Zaobao, “I originally applied for maternity insurance a week before the onset of the disease but was rejected by the insurance company. The two of us have a combined income of about $6,000, and we still need to pay a housing loan. Now we have to prepare to pay about $200,000 in medical expenses, leaving us at a loss as to what to do.”

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Desperate to meet the staggering medical expenses, the couple has turned to the crowdfunding platform Give.Asia, to raise $210,000. Ms Xu expressed their intention to donate any surplus funds to others in need.

To support the family’s finances, Ms Xu returned to work soon after being discharged from the hospital. Fortunately, her employer allowed her to work from home, and she plans to take four months of maternity leave to care for her son once he is discharged.

The family’s story sheds light on the emotional and financial toll faced by young parents unexpectedly thrown into the challenging world of premature birth and complex medical conditions. As they navigate the uncertainties ahead, the crowdfunding initiative serves as a lifeline to alleviate their mounting medical expenses and provide hope for their baby’s future.