3 Saudi children die in a week at Singapore hospital
RIYADH: The Ministry of Health has stopped all treatment of Saudis at a Singapore hospital after three Saudi children died there in one week. The children had been referred there for bone-marrow transplants.
The ministry said it will provide patients with treatment in other advanced countries.
Two girls, Rawabi Al-Hazmi and Darin Al-Areeni, died on May 14 and May 19 respectively.
A boy, Muhammad Abu Zinadah, died before Friday prayers on May 20.
Another boy, Ibrahim Al-Shar’aan, died on March 26.
The causes of death, according to the hospital’s reports, ranged from rejection of transplanted organs to viral infections, officials said.
The children’s guardians lodged official complaints against officials from the Ministry of Health and the Kingdom’s Embassy in Singapore, who referred them to the hospital.
They said they were lured into accepting treatment for their children at the hospital, which presented them with false reports about its high percentage of successful operations, according to officials.
The families of the dead children expressed astonishment at the Ministry of Health’s decision to refer the children for treatment at the hospital despite knowing that a Saudi patient had died there previously.
Okaz/Saudi Gazette was unable to reach Dr. Khalid Al-Hussein, chairman of the Medical Commission for the Treatment of Saudis Abroad to discuss the matter. His office staff said he would return on Saturday.
– Okaz/Saudi Gazette
by Dinesh Chandra Gaur on Sat, 05/28/2011 - 12:19 Health TNM Singapore
The Singapore medical tourism is expected to be badly hit this year, following the death of three Saudi Arabian children at Mount Elizabeth hospital. Confirming the news, Mr. Borhan Saini, Chief Executive of Wellcare Holdings International, claimed that five expected medical tourists, to be reached next month, have canceled their appointment with Singapore’s hospitals.
As per sources, the questioned patients, Rawabi Al-Hazmi, 9, Darin Al-Areeni, 5 and the boy, Muhammad Abu Zinadah, were reported to have died on May 14, May 19 and last Friday, respectively, after the failure of bone marrow transplants.
With 5% of Middle Eastern’s clientele at stake, Mr. Borhan is of the view that the cancellation from the clients has come at the time, when Mount Elizabeth is being questioned over its medical services, following the death of three children.
Moreover, Mr. Syed Munir Iqbal, Executive Director of Medi-Connect Singapore, has also sided with Borhan’s view and reinforced the belief that the recent case at Mount Elizabeth has played a crucial role in reducing the number of enquiries from Saudis.
Though Mount Elizabeth defended their treatment, Singapore's Ministry of Health has apparently has not received any complaint from the Saudi government and the families of the dead children
Defend by Mt E....
Three Saudi children who died at Mount Elizabeth were 'critically ill'
by Neo Chai Chin
SINGAPORE - Three Saudi Arabian children died within a week of each other earlier this month at Mount Elizabeth Hospital, prompting the Saudi Health Ministry to order a stop to all medical treatment of its citizens at the private hospital here.
The Saudi Gazette newspaper reported that two girls and a boy died between May 14 and 20. The children, who are believed to be between one and three years old, had been referred to the hospital for bone marrow transplants. However, Mount Elizabeth Hospital chief executive officer Kelvin Loh told MediaCorp yesterday they were complex cases and "critically ill when admitted to our care, with some limited chance for survival".
He added: "It's most unfortunate the mortality rates for these patients were higher than what we would have desired, as a result of ... pre-existing complex medical conditions."
Elaborating on the complexity of the cases, Dr Loh said one child had advanced cancer of the blood with brain involvement and had suffered a relapse after intensive treatment in Saudi Arabia. The boy also had multiple complications arising from infections and was brought to Singapore by his parents to attempt a bone marrow transplant.
"The high risks were explained to his parents, who agreed to proceed, as the child would surely perish without treatment. Despite our efforts ... he continued to suffer from disease recurrence and multiple complications, and subsequently passed away," said Dr Loh, who added that the medical team "was very disappointed with the outcome and share the grief of the family". The hospital is working with Saudi Embassy officials and its government and is in close contact with the patients' families, he said. The embassy here did not reply to queries by press time.
Dr Loh did not say who the lead physician was in the children's cases. But the hospital said that its bone marrow transplant team has performed over 150 transplants since 2005, with a 77-per-cent success rate.
Bone marrow transplant is a high-risk procedure and most commonly used to treat high-risk cancers, including leukaemia and lymphoma, in some form of remission, according to Dr Tan Poh Lin of the National University Hospital (NUH).
The risks involved are patient-specific and depend on factors such as type of disease, status of disease at the time of transplant and type of donor, said Dr Tan, senior consultant in NUH's University Children's Medical Institute.
The deaths highlight the risks inherent in medical procedures, said a private surgeon who noted that, with improving medical infrastructure in the Middle East in recent years, the patients who come here are increasingly the complicated, high-intensity cases.
"You come over for a complicated job that no one else in the region can do, it's a different starting point," he said.
A March news report cited the Middle East, along with Indonesia and Malaysia, as the top medical tourism markets for Singapore, and the surgeon thinks a dent in the number of patients from the Middle East is possible, as "any adverse publicity will have an effect, especially in a foreign country".
But the key question, said another surgeon in private practice, is whether the children who died would really have benefited from the treatment they received.
"It comes back to your own experience. Let's say out of 10 patients that people tell you would have died, you managed to save one or two persons - so instead of 100-per-cent deaths, you now have 20 per cent who survive. Some patients and their families may accept that. It's very important to establish the track record for such patients of the people who are doing this," he said. He added that a review could be useful, given the three deaths in one week.
SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Health has revealed to MediaCorp that it "has initiated an investigation" after the deaths of three Saudi children at Mount Elizabeth Hospital.
This latest development comes after "the families of the patients" wrote to the Singapore Embassy in Riyadh, said the ministry yesterday.
Revealing this in response to queries from MediaCorp, the ministry added: "However, we are unable to reveal more due to patient confidentiality."
The authorities did not reply yesterday when asked when and how many families had written to the Singapore Embassy, what - if any - allegations had been made or what sort of investigation the ministry has initiated.
Last week, when contacted after the story first broke in today, the MOH had said it was "gathering facts" into the deaths of the children, aged between four and nine, who had come here for bone marrow transplants.
Mount Elizabeth Hospital chief executive Dr Kelvin Loh had explained previously that the three children's cases were complex. They were critically ill when admitted, with some limited chance for survival, but the hospital's medical team had striven for the best outcome possible, he said.
The children had died within a span of a week, one of them after returning to Saudi Arabia. Another child had died in March.
While the Saudi Health Ministry had ordered a halt to all medical treatment of its citizens at the hospital following the deaths, the MOH said last week it had not received any complaints yet. Attempts to reach the Saudi embassy here for comment have been unsuccessful.
However, it is believed that the parent of a child who survived an unsuccessful bone marrow transplant at Mount Elizabeth wrote last Saturday to the MOH to provide names of Saudi children who were due to undergo or had undergone transplants at the hospital. The ministry has responded to say it was looking into the matter.