Hidayah, a first-time mommy to Bella who was born in May 2022, shares her family’s recent experience at the Ronald McDonald House when Bella was admitted into the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit.
Both Hidayah and her husband, Abdul, work with the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), where they face a variety of medical cases daily but despite that, when they found out about Bella’s condition, the devastating news hit them like “the force of a tornado – we were clueless, lost and helpless”. That said, the couple remained positive and did their research to ensure they were in-the-know as to what the journey ahead might entail.
Describing her finding out about the pregnancy as “probably one of the best days of my life, if not THE best”, Hidayah recalls that for the most part, everything was smooth sailing, and she was a happy and bubbly mum-to-be who ate and slept well and made sure to stay active too. At 23 weeks pregnant, the doctors found through a detailed scan that Bella had a heart condition called Tetralogy of Fallot, albeit not an extreme case. This meant that Bella had a hole in between her ventricles which would impede her body’s capabilities to get sufficient oxygenated blood. They were assigned a cardiologist, whom they consulted throughout the pregnancy and is now still seeing Bella. He assured the couple that Bella would be fine after a heart repair procedure, projected to be done at 8 months of age, and she would be able to live a normal life after.
Alas, Bella developed “tet spells” when she was 4 months old; when she would turn blue as the oxygenated blood was insufficient. This meant that her body did not have enough oxygen as the blood in the heart mixed due to the hole. “Tet spells” would result in Bella becoming weak and drowsy after each episode and the danger would be that she fell unconscious in the event not enough oxygen reached her brain.
Thus, a surgery was scheduled immediately, and surgeons were called in to patch up the hole in her tiny 4-month old heart.
Hidayah shares that she is grateful to the RMHC staff who ensured that the facilities were in impeccable order, and that necessities were always replenished in a timely manner. She also shares she was impressed at how the charity had thought of everything to ensure that the House and Family Rooms were a comfortable space – a place where anguished and worried parents like themselves could unwind after a harrowing time in PICU. The cosy and familiar environment reminded them of happier days and thus, kept them hopeful for brighter days again once Bella was discharged. The Rahims fondly remember the friends they made during their stay – the other parents who were in the same boat as them. They found comfort in each other and bonded over their individual challenges but ultimately, were all hopeful in fighting the fight for their children in PICU.
“Thank you for supporting us through our tough time in NUH. We greatly appreciate the efforts RMHC has taken to ensure that we are as comfortable as possible considering the circumstances of what we were going through. Thank you for the amazing work that you are doing! You have no idea how much it helps families and such love, goes a long way. We are forever indebted.”
Hidayah and Abdul Rahim