Friday, February 25, 2011

$8 For Heart Bypass Is Still Cheap

In 1955 Susan Lim MBBS (Hons 1, Monash), PhD (Cantab), FRCS (Edin, Gold Medal); FRCS (Glasg), M.Med Surg (S'pore), AACS, FACS, FAMS was born in Singapore and educated at Singapore Chinese Girls' School and Raffles Institution.
In 1974 she studied medicine at Monash University on a Colombo Plan scholarship.
In 1984 she was awarded a fellowship with the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.
In 1988 she completed a Ph.D. in cell immunology at Cambridge University under a Winston Churchill Scholarship.
In 1989 she was appointed Senior Lecturer and Consultant in Surgery at the National University of Singapore Hospital.
In 1990 she successfully performed the first liver transplant in Asia history.
In 1991 she rose to the prestigious position of associate professor in surgery.
In 1995 she left the university and went into private practice, it was difficult for her to be a surgeon, a researcher and a lecturer all at once.
In 2000 she was named Singapore's "Spirit of the Century" following a national contest to select a role model for the 21st century.
In 2003 she founded Stem Cell Technologies which researches the use of adult stem cells for cell therapy and regenerative medicine.
In 2005 she became the youngest-ever elected Fellow of Trinity College at University of Melbourne.
In 2006 she was awarded the Monash University Distinguished Alumnus and appointed visiting professor at the Institute of Cell and Molecular Science at Barts and Queen Mary's School of Medicine in London.
In 2008, the U.S. Committee for Review & Recognition named the 28th American Academy of Continuing Medical Education award "the Susan Lim Award". It recognizes achievement in the advancement of laparoscopic and minimally invasive surgeries.

In spite of her busy schedule, Dr Lim provided breast cancer treatment for the younger sister of Brunei's Queen from 2001. In 2007 she spent 33 days in Brunei, setting up a "medical infrastructure" there for her patient who died 7 months later in August. Between March 8 and June 28, Dr Lim sent several invoices for services rendered, adding up to a total of $24.8 million. The bill is at the heart of a court case between Dr Lim and the Singapore Medical Council (SMC). Reportedly reduced to $3.25 million, it is still a substantial sum, with or without the assistance of Medisave, Medifund or Medishield.

"Are you worth all that money?" was the final question presented by British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) interviewer Jonathan Head in 2009, who had read that "you’re apparently the highest-paid head of government in the world." Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's reply (snipped off by local censors) comes to mind here:
"We go on a system which is open, honest, transparent. What is the job worth, what is the quality of person whom you want. You need the best people for the job and these are jobs where you make decisions which are worth billions of dollars. And you cannot do that if you’re pretending and you just say, well, we’re all in it for the love of king and country. We wanted to be honest, we want people not to come in for the money but at the same time, their sacrifice cannot be too great."

Supporters of Dr Lim argue that charging as much as the market will bear is an accepted practice in business, even the SMC Code of Ethics has nothing to go after doctors about the pricing of their services. But is it acceptable practice for governance?
Another instance of converting airplane to hospital for VVIP


  1. In ancient days, saving life was a duty.

    In modern time, everything, including saving life or doing the simplest of task for others carries a price, most times sinfully exorbitant.

  2. If the Brunei Royalty could not even afford a one-off $24.8m medical bill , why then could Singaporeans afford the $20-30m Ministers bill (salaries) from our leaders? What's more ironic is that this is a recurring cost!

    While Susan Lim is no God, and she can't promise the royalty that death will not come to pass even with a $24.5m bill, can our PAP leaders guaranteed with their lives that they will NOT ruin Singaporeans' lives to death with this obscene "recurring" bill? The way I see it, most people are already dying with cancer cell without knowing it.

    Are we really daft, duds and lesser mortals? Or was there ever an "open, honest, transparent" debate/bill where we got to vote on this matter?

  3. Technically and legally, Dr Lim has the upper hand, that's why the first discipline committee gave up. She's now on trial on moral grounds. The irony is that ST is wielding the cudgel. Would they use same on their political masters, who is just as tainted?

  4. Susan Lim is the caricature of PAP.

  5. Not everyone is enjoying the fruits of runaway prosperity. Yes, we cant enjoy the fruits proportinately. The rich will get a bigger slice of the cake but surely we can afford to care for the sick and the elderly in a manner that is befitting a developed nation.

  6. What do you expect from a nation who opens their floodgates of opportunity to foreigners to rush in, get comfortable and suck the blood of its own citizens.

  7. Susan Lim must be thinking to herself, if our PAP dud Ministers can charge Singaporeans that kind of obscene pay when they are no specialists themselves, who are they to question me what kind of fees that I can command ?

    Obviously someone in our govt here must be trying to please the rich and famous Sultan.

  8. This woman's greed became her downfall. This incident showed that she is more greedy than she is intelligent...and she is a very very intelligent lady. She has lost credibility when her bill was "voluntarily" reduced from $24.8M to $3.25M. How is she different from a thief/cheat? She should be punished like one.

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