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Former celebrity chef Lisa Fong, 89, hospitalized for 20 days with urethritis and pneumonia

Former celebrity chef Lisa Fong, 89, hospitalized for 20 days with urethritis and pneumonia

Former chef Lisa Fong, also known as Fang Tai, was hospitalized for 20 days in May due to urethritis and pneumonia.

The 89-year-old Singaporean had a popular cooking show on local television in the 80s and 90s, but has since retired from the small screen. Her daughter, known as Ah Bao, still provides updates on the beloved personality via Fong’s Facebook page.

On June 30, Ah Bao posted a photo of herself with her mother after a lunch outing and wrote a 3,000-word message in Chinese revealing Fong’s recent bout of ill health. The couple live in Hong Kong.

Ah Bao said: “Today is June 30, a day I like to celebrate because a month ago, on May 30, Fang Tai was discharged from the hospital and came home. Please forgive me for not having the time or the mood to update everyone on the events because during the 20 days that Fang Tai was in the hospital, I was by her side and did not return home.”

She added that she first noticed Fong going to the bathroom more often than usual in late April. Ah Bao took her mother to the doctor, where she was diagnosed with urethritis and prescribed a week of antibiotics. A planned trip to Japan over Labor Day weekend was canceled so Fong could rest.

Although the antibiotics seemed to work for the first few days, Ah Bao said that on the fifth day her mother started complaining of feeling “unwell all over,” but she thought this was because she was still recovering from urethritis.

But on May 10th, Ah Bao came home to find Fong lying on the couch unable to stand. Shortly after, Fong threw up while lying in bed and could only lie on the dirty sheets with her vomit.

While Ah Bao wanted to take her mother to the hospital right away, it took a while before a hospital would admit Fong. The first hospital Ah Bao called refused to admit Fong because there were no more wards available.

She then went with Fong to the outpatient clinic of another hospital and waited there for more than two hours before she was told that because Fong had a high fever, she could only stay in a private room. However, because there were no more rooms, the hospital could not accommodate her.

Ah Bao was told that they could get a referral and go to another hospital for treatment themselves, or that the hospital could call an ambulance for them.

She recalls: “At that moment I had a little breakdown. I thought I was surfing on a travel website to book a hotel. A hospital that doesn’t prioritize treatment when it’s dealing with someone who is seriously ill?”

Eventually, Fong was admitted to the third hospital the couple went to, Union Hospital. There, doctors discovered that the bacteria she had contracted from her urethritis were resistant to the antibiotics she had been prescribed. As a result, they were entering her bloodstream and causing sepsis, a serious condition that can be fatal.

A week into her hospital stay, Fong was also diagnosed with respiratory syncytial virus, which caused her to develop pneumonia.

In total she spent 20 days in hospital due to her urethritis and pneumonia, but she is now recovering well.

Ah Bao also shared health and recipe tips for taking care of her mother during this time.

She wrote: “In these 20 days, I have lost 3kg. I joke that all my hair turned white overnight. I was with her the whole time she was in the hospital. I was worried, but it is also important for the family to be with her because medical resources in Hong Kong are so limited. It is better to keep an eye on the patient yourself than to file a complaint later.”

She added: “I want to thank my mother. Thanks to her hard work, we are moving towards a healthier life. She always felt that she is made of iron and will never break, but through this ordeal she understood that health is something that needs to be maintained. I hope she remembers this lesson.”