Survivor with A Heart of Gold

A heart attack survivor and a SHF volunteer in the 1980s, Mr Raymon Huang, now 93 year old, vividly recounts the day 37 years ago when he suffered his heart attack, and shares his thoughts on why people should give back to the society.

SHF: Hello Uncle Raymon, can you tell us about your heart condition?
Raymon (R): I had my first heart attack in 1983 when I was in Kuala Lumpur for the annual badminton game between Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) (now Mediacorp) and Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM). I was then a staff of SBC.

On the day of the game, I was feeling unwell with flu, and made the wrong decision to continue with the game. Throughout the day, I suffered three heart attacks, with symptoms like cold sweat, nauseous, weak limbs and tight chest. It felt like 10 elephants were sitting on my chest. By the third attack, my friends decided to send me to the University Hospital
in Petaling Jaya, where I was admitted for 26 days just for observation and rest.

In January 1984, a cardiologist at Singapore General Hospital, Prof Arthur Tan, reviewed my condition and discovered three of my arteries were about 70 – 85% blocked. I was then referred to do a surgery in Sydney, Australia as the mortality rate there was much lower than Singapore at that time.

On 24 February 1984, I did my bypass operation on four blocked arteries, with the fourth artery being identified during the operation.

SHF: How do you feel now after so many years?

R: I think I am very fortunate, as not many people’s bypass can last so long after their operations. A lot of my friends had to go through another bypass after 9 to 15 years.

I am feeling generally okay, just that I am frailer now. I will need a walking stick, as I fell about 4 times in the past two year.

I am still part of the Rotary Club of Singapore, where I contribute an article once a month. Other than that I try to do light exercises and reading at home to keep myself active.

SHF: What was your memory about volunteering for the then Singapore National Heart Association?

R: My recollection dated back to 1985, when SNHA used to have a small office at Pasir Panjang with just one secretary and one assistant secretary. A fellow bypass operation friend, Mr Fred Sabapathy, and I helped out often. Dr Low was the then chairman.

In fact, I started voluntary work in 1947 with the Chinese YMCA (now called Metropolitan YMCA). Since then, I have been a Board and Executive Committee Member for close to 20 social service agencies.

SHF: Any advice for people who may be keen to volunteer?

R: Always remember the 3Ts.
Time – You can always make time if you want.
Talent – Share your talent with the community, nothing is too small to share.
Treasure – Treasure what you have and help those whose needs are greater than ours.