KUALA LUMPUR: Her family fondly refers to her as the Iron Lady for her strength and determination.
Toh Hong Poh, a 92-year-old grandmother, had lived up to her moniker by beating the odds to win herself a new lease of life after surviving open heart surgery at the National Heart Institute (IJN) recently.
She underwent the surgery despite being told she might not come out of it alive.
Reclining on her hospital bed a week after the surgery, the bright-eyed old woman said joyfully: “Life starts anew for me now.”
Toh said she embraced the surgery as yet another of life's challenges.
“I am so happy my heart is fine now,” she said yesterday.
“I would just like to eat and enjoy life.”
Toh marked another milestone in her recovery yesterday when she managed to walk with the aid of a walker.
She added that she was very blessed with a large family of more than 50 grandchildren and great-grandchildren who loved her.
Toh had been suffering from severe aortic stenosis (pressure build-up due to narrowing of the aortic valve) for years but declined surgery or medical intervention as her health remained fairly good.
However, she was admitted to IJN in May after suffering severe shortness of breath that made her feel like “she'd rather die”.
Further checks found she also had severe mitral regurgitation, a condition where blood flows backward from the left ventricle to the left atrium.
Her surgeon Dr Pau Kiew Kong expressed satisfaction at Toh's post-operation progress, saying it was a remarkable recovery for her age.
Without surgery, he estimated Toh had at most a year to live because her heart valves had been very diseased.
Dr Pau said he guessed her heart's age to be that of a 60-year-old.
“Her heart's in good condition. Miraculously, she woke up from surgery alert and well,” he said.
Dr Pau said he had been convinced to do the surgery despite Toh's advanced age as she and her family had been very keen on it.
“I observed that she was strong physically and mentally as well. She is extraordinary,” he said.
He added that Toh's age gave her up to 30% chance of dying during surgery.