What To Expect When You Really Need It

Expatriates in Malaysia share their experiences in seeking medical options, and what to expect from Malaysian healthcare when it counts.

by / Published: 18 Nov 2013

What To Expect When You Really Need It

Service with a smile at Prince Court Medical Centre

Expatriates in Malaysia share their personal experiences on exploring local healthcare options in times of need, and what to expect from Malaysian healthcare when it counts.

A New Arrival
by Michelle Whytcross
Both my children were born here in Malaysia. We quickly realised when we arrived in the country that it was a perfect place to start a family. However, there was a big question mark over what kind of experience we could expect during the delivery.

After trying for a natural birth the first time around but being forced to have a Caesarean section and finding the whole experience quite upsetting, the second time around I had little hesitation in booking my surgery immediately. Was I ‘too posh to push’? Of course not, darling. How could you say that?

We arrived at Prince Court Medical Centre in the expected state of nervous excitement. It was early morning, and we checked into our fantastically appointed room (modelled, someone told me, after a room at The Westin Hotel). The bed was amazing, the bathroom spacious and there was a flat screen television to boot. It felt more like arriving at a spa resort. The ‘treatment’ awaited.

After being quite upset with the experience of our first delivery—although obviously entirely delighted with the result—we were cautious about the delivery. They attempted the epidural several times before the doctor explained that it wasn’t working, so rather than continue my discomfort, they placed me under general anaesthetic. The clear, reassuring conversation with the doctors made this potentially upsetting development seem simple and while it meant my husband had to leave the delivery suite, he could watch through the window and the birth went well thereafter.

In fact, in spite of being under a General and having major surgery, I was up and walking around within four hours of the birth! My recovery was amazingly quick—a bit too quick if you ask me as I was just getting used to the amazing facilities and could have quite easily spent another week there!

The other thing I was impressed by was that they kept the incision within my first scar, which meant it healed fully and very quickly. As well as going home with a wonderful bundle of joy—a boy to go with our young girl—we also left Prince Court Medical Centre with only good things to say about the experience. If you are starting a family here in Malaysia, there is nothing to worry about. You’re in very safe hands.

Prince Court Medical Centre
39, Jalan Kia Peng, KL
Tel: 03–2160 0999

A Bit More Than A Tiny Scratch
by Antoine Commare
Living in the tropics means that we have to deal with mosquitoes every day. For the last ten years, I had been careful and followed recommendations to avoid developing mosquito-breeding zones at home. No stagnant water, use repellent, schedule regular fogging. Little did I know that I was about to receive a tiny bite that would become a life threatening experience—or to be accurate—a leg threatening experience.

Right, so I got bitten. Scratched it, and forgot about it. On a Tuesday afternoon, in order to write an article about it, I went water skiing. No big deal, had a great time, went home. The day after, I started developing a light rash on my left calf. Again, no big deal. It was not even itchy at the time. On Friday evening, a very light fever appeared. A couple of Panadols and that would be it, I thought. On Saturday morning, I decided to go watch a rugby tournament. How wrong I was! By lunch time, my left leg had tripled in size and become a beautiful rotten red. It looked like my macho “no need for a doctor, honey” front had come to an end. I finally decided to pay attention to the recommendations of my better half and checked myself into the emergency ward at KPJ Damansara Specialist Hospital.

I was immediately put under an IV with strong antibiotics. After a full blood screening, the alarming news came back that a bacteria had decided that the little mosquito bite was a perfect entry point to my leg. In fact, it realised that my calf was a fantastic breeding ground. We have all watched Monsters Inside Me on the National Geographic channel. Well, now I was living it for real on the front row seat. I was admitted for about a week.

For the first couple of days, the situation was dire. I will not get into details, but some ugly substances were coming out of my leg throughout those two days. Every morning, I was woken up at 5.30am by a nurse who wanted to draw some blood. At 6.30am, it was the first IV of the day, followed by more at 2.30pm and 10.30pm. Three times a day, I had to take an unbelievable amount of pills. Although the doctor was cheerful and positive, I could sense that the situation was worrisome. It turned out that had there been no improvement by Tuesday, an amputation below the knee would have been a strong possibility. To make matters worse, I was also diagnosed with leptospirosis—a mild version, but it did not help in getting the bacteria treated. All in all, I was blasted with extremely strong antibiotics for three weeks. When I was finally discharged and presented a hefty bill of RM14,000, I was just glad I still had both of my legs.

My leg is now almost fully recovered. I bear scars, and I still need to go back to the hospital to assess if there are any internal damages. What I learnt is that no matter what people may say about the healthcare system in Malaysia, I will hold Dr Gan in a very special place in my personal pantheon. It might be cliché to say that every day I take ridiculously small steps for humanity, but they are massive ones for me.

KPJ Damansara Specialist Hospital
119, Jalan SS20/10, Damansara Utama, PJ
Tel: 03–7722 2692

Injury Time
by Michelle Whytcross
I am grateful that during my time in Malaysia, I have not had the kind of emergency illness that befell Antoine. However, I did suffer an emergency at the worst possible time—on holiday in Langkawi, which ruined our family stay. I slipped on a wet step and dislocated my knee, which was not only excruciatingly painful but meant a long and tedious course of rehabilitation.

My brother is a highly experienced physiotherapist who has worked around the world and now runs his own practice, which would of course have been my preferred place for rehab apart from the small problem that it is in Melbourne. I don’t think my bad knee would have appreciated the eight-hour flight to go and visit him every week. So, I booked myself into the Kuala Lumpur Sports Medicine Centre (KLSMC) in Damansara Heights.

I had an MRI and several courses of physiotherapy with them before I was able to get back on my feet. I have always found the centre modern, professionally run and very well equipped. A PE teacher friend of mine recently confirmed my positive appraisal of KLSMC when he beamed about the excellent experience he had with them in surgery for a cartilage issue.

With more and more of us active in sports, it is reassuring to know that there is somewhere that is a genuine specialist in the field of sports medicine right here in KL. KLSMC not only offers an integrated service including consultation, physiotherapy and surgery but also boasts its own research and development unit. Their latest work involves stem cells to regenerate cartilage, a treatment that is revolutionary when it comes to complex injuries such as the one my PE teacher friend suffered. Their innovative stem cell therapy exploits the natural healing properties of a patient’s own stem cells, harvested then re-injected into the damaged areas. The cells are also cryo-preserved and stored for future treatment.

I’ve long been a believer in stem cell research (both my children had their stem cells harvested at birth) so this approach fascinated me. I asked a representative from KLSMC about the work and he explained that “the science, surgical technique, harvesting and storage of the stem cells, and the postoperative rehabilitation programme that encompasses this innovative technology have been established to enable quality regeneration and repair.

“Today, KLSMC remains at the forefront for sports medicine in treating musculo-skeletal injuries. Its pioneering stem cell treatment has received international recognition and it is a patented technology. KLSMC continues to raise the bar in sports medicine and expand its areas of expertise to meet growing demands.”

That demand is evident in my own circumstance, my friends’ and countless others who incur sporting injuries. When injury strikes, we need places like KLSMC.

Kuala Lumpur Sports Medicine Centre
7th Floor, Wisma Perintis,
47 Jalan Dungun, Damansara Heights, KL
Tel: 03–2096 1033