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First X-Ray Machine
In 1898, the first x-ray machine arrived in Singapore, only 3 years after Wilhelm Roentgen’s discovery. It was located at the Municipal Office, not the hospital. Only in 1913 was it installed at the General Hospital.
First ECG Machine
In 1929, the first portable machine for electrocardiography was introduced at SGH.
First Mass X-Ray Campaign
In 1959, the first mass X-ray campaign was held in Singapore, revealing that one in 27 people was likely to have tuberculosis.
First Artificial Kidney Unit
The artificial kidney unit formed in 1961 within the Department of Clinical Medicine at the University of Malaya was the first such facility in South-East Asia. The first hemodialysis was performed using the Travenol twin-coil artificial kidney. The dialysis took 12 hours. In 1967, the Kill-type artificial kidney was introduced and it was able to deal with chronic dialysis.
First MRI Machine
The first Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine for taking pictures of the body using radio waves and magnets was installed in 1991 in NUH.
First Kidney Dialysis Unit
The first kidney dialysis unit was established in 1969, from funds raised by Dr Khoo Oon Teik and a group of volunteers from the SGH.
First CT Scanner
In 1976, the first Computed Tomography (CT) Head Scanner was installed in TTSH. In 1977, the first Whole Body CT Scanner was installed in MEH. Its diagnostic accuracy brought about a quantum leap in the practice of radiology.
First Usage Of SurgiScope
In 1999, Gleneagles Hospital became South-East Asia’s first hospital to use SurgiScope for neurosurgery, ENT and spinal surgeries. SurgiScope is a robotised tool-holder designed for microscope-assisted neurosurgical applications.
First Usage Of Voice-Activated Surgical System
In 2002, the Endosuite was installed at MEH. It features a voice-activated response system which allows a physician to use his voice to command a machine for certain tasks during surgery. He can make surgical instrument commands, increases the amount of light, tilts the operating bed, and even makes a phone call, among various other functions.
First Angiographic Detector Imaging System
NUH introduced the cardiac biplane flat panel angiographic detector imaging system in 2006, the first of its kind in public hospitals. The biplane system offers twice the number of images without increasing procedure time. For patients who require stenting procedure for blocked arteries, the system offers superior image quality.
First Usage Of Da Vinci System
SGH was the first to buy a Da Vinci robot in 2003. The Da Vinci features 4 mechanical arms, a moving camera system and tremor elimination capabilities that allow the technically demanding procedures to be carried out with better control and accuracy. It translates natural hand movements into corresponding micro-movements of the surgical instruments positioned inside the patient. SGH was the first in the region to use the Da Vinci for prostate cancer surgery.
In 2003, SGH acquired the first cyclotron in Singapore to support advanced diagnostic imaging. The cyclotron, a type of particle accelerator, supplies isotopes for use in PET scanners.
Most Powerful Microscope
The IMB-Olympus Microscopy Suite was jointly launched by A*STAR’s Institute of Medical Biology and Olympus Singapore on 23 May 2011. The microscopes have nano-imaging capabilities that can capture images of individual proteins inside a living cell – something not possible with conventional microscopy. The suite of microscopes is used to help scientists study human diseases such as cancer and neuro-degeneration at a much more advanced level.
First PET-MRI Machine
The Siemens scanner installed in Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital in 2012 can do the Positron Emission Tomography scan and the Magnetic Resonance Imaging at the same time. Doing both simultaneously creates greater accuracy and at a lower radiation level.
First Integrated Operating Suites
In 2007, SGH became the world’s first hospital where instant scans can be done during brain surgery to help surgeons make better decisions. The Khoo Teck Puat-NNI Integrated Operating Suites is a collaboration between SingHealth and BrainLab, a German-based medical software solutions company. This set-up combines MRI, CT Scan and 3-D fluoroscopy capabilities within a single machine.
First Malaria Detection Transistor
The NUS-designed graphene transistor can detect malaria-infected red blood cells. A cross-disciplinary team at NUS – comprising Prof Loh Kian Ping, Priscilla Ang Kailian, Prof Lim Chwee Teck and Dr Li Ang – has conceptualised and built a device for malaria detection using graphene transistor in a microfluidic channel, as announced in 2012.
Most Portable ECG Chip
Prof Lian Yong of NUS and Johnson Chen of Clearbridge VitalSigns, a new NUS spin-off company, developed and commercialised a novel, ultra-low powered electrocardiogram chip since 2011. The ECG chip can be developed into an extremely thin, self-adhesive Digital ECG Plaster that is adhered to a patient’s chest. They aim to develop it into a highly-sensitive and accurate, fully-integrated, medical grade ECG waveform recorder.
World’s First Energy-Storage Membrane
Led by Dr Xie Xian Ning, the NUS team used a polystyrene-based polymer to deposit the soft, foldable membrane converted from organic waste which, when sandwiched between and charged by two graphite plates, can store charge at 0.2 farads per sq cm. The cost involved in energy storage is also drastically reduced with this 2011 invention, from about US$7 to store each farad using existing technologies based on liquid electrolytes to about US$0.62 per farad. Moreover, the performance of the membrane surpasses those of lithium ion and lead-acid batteries.
Biochip For The Fastest Detection Of Multiple Diseases
NUS spin-off company, AyoxxA, is developing a biochip platform that can detect and quantify up to hundreds of different proteins and disease markers in a minute drop of blood. Its patented biochip technology is based on inventions made at Asst Prof Dieter Trau and Assoc Prof Wen-Tso Liu’s laboratories at NUS. The protein chip can detect markers for cancer, allergies, cardiovascular or infectious diseases. It won the Best of Biotech 2010 award ceremony hosted by Austria Wirtschaftsservice.
Fastest Miniaturised ELISA
With DropArray, the reagent fluid required for testing is 10 times less than conventional processes, and thus labs would benefit from high savings on reagents and samples. Developed by IBN and led by Dr Namyong Kim, DropArray also yields test results 1,000 times faster than conventional methods. It was commercialised in 2008 by IBN’s first spin-off company Curiox Biosystems.
First Transluminal Endoscopic Robot
The world’s first flexible endoscope equipped with a pair of 6mm robotic hands, developed by researchers from NTU and NUH, has been used in pioneering surgeries on patients with gastric tumour during its trial in India in 2011. No external incision is required, which means no scars for the patient and a faster recovery time from the surgery. The gadget requires 2 doctors to work on it – one to control the flexible endoscope with small robotic arms inserted into the stomach via the patient’s mouth and the other to control the movements of the robotic arms with an external master console, while monitoring the procedure on the computer. This gadget, named MASTER (Master And Slave Transluminal Endoscopic Robot) was developed after 6 years of research, by Assoc Prof Louis Phee of NTU and Prof Lawrence Ho of NUH. It was designed and built in NTU.
Fastest Virus Detection Kit
IBN’s disease diagnostics technology, the MicroKit, was developed by Prof Jackie Ying, Guolin Xu and James Tseng-Ming. It is an automated diagnostic device that can detect viruses rapidly and accurately within two hours. Designed to enable diagnosis outside the laboratory, the MicroKit is portable and easy to use for non-clinical personnel. It integrates sample preparation, amplification and detection processes in a disposable polymer cartridge, hence minimising virus exposure. The technology was licensed to SG Molecular Diagnostics Pte Ltd in Jan 2009.
Smallest ECG Monitor
A wearable water-resistant, wireless heart monitor made its appearance in 2010. The Spyder is capable of measuring and transmitting real-time quality ECG signal to a wireless device such as a mobile phone for display and analysis. It weighs 26 grams and measures 6 cm in the longest length The Spyder is developed by a team of doctors and engineers from the National Heart Centre and Web Biotechnology.
First Light Sensitive Contact Lenses
In 2009, researchers at iCare, part of the IBN, had succeeded in infusing light-sensitive dyes into contact lenses. These contact lenses behave similarly to treated spectacle lenses. They darken when used under sunlight, and quickly return to normal once used indoors and under artificial light.
Fastest Blood Diagnostic Device
In 2008, Dr Juergen Pipper of IBN announced the development of an all-in-one rapid gene diagnosis device that integrates biological sample preparation with polymerase chain reaction (PCR) on a chip. Though not ready for the market yet, the invention can eventually result in a hand-held device that may even be used by patients to do their own testing. The device is currently applied in tests for HIV, H5N1 (Avian flu) and other diseases caused by viruses or bacteria which can give results of blood samples in 17 minutes. The device works faster because blood samples are tested directly rather than having to be processed first using the conventional method.
First Pill Camera
30 researchers from various institutes and doctors, since Aug 2008, have been working on creating a pill camera. The camera, in the form of a capsule, moves on its own within the body. It can send video footages and images wirelessly, allowing doctors to do immediate diagnosis. It can also follow instructions on where to collect tissue samples for biopsy, or deliver drugs to specific areas.
First Disposable Soft-Tissue Surgical Retractor
ReeTrakt was released for sale in the United States in Oct 2007. ReeTrakt is the new generation of disposable soft-tissue surgical retractor systems that provides retraction flexibility and optimal exposure of view in a variety of surgical procedures. It has been designed for surgeons to gently retract and secure the delicate soft tissue away from the operative site. It minimises tissue trauma, optimises retraction force and lowers the risk of infection. ReeTrakt is collaboratively developed by NTU’s Prof Freddy Boey, Assoc Prof Ma Jan and Erwin Wouterson with Insightra Medical’s engineering team. It is marketed by Insightra Medical Inc.
New Scaffold for Growing Cells and Tissues
IBN announced in 2006, the development of fibrous scaffolds, which can be used to grow cells and tissues. The team, comprising of Dr Andrew Wan, Benjamin Tai, Dr Kwong-Joo Leck and Prof Jackie Ying, created the scaffolds from artificial fibres with nanometre-sized features. Unlike conventional tissue engineering scaffolds, IBN’s production method does not use high temperatures, organic solvents or leaching, processes which compromise the biological activity of proteins, making it difficult to incorporate biological molecules into the scaffold.
First Bone-Substitute Fibre Material
Prof James Newton Boss of NUS invented a new material that is a composite of carbon and Kevlar fibres. The material can be used as a substitute for metallic surgical implants and does not lead to tissue rejection. It has been used to make posts to support a dental filling, hip replacement and other implants. For the breakthrough, Prof Boss became Singapore’s first recipient of the Gusi Peace Prize in 2008, which has often been regarded as Asia’s Nobel Peace Prize.
Fastest Diagnosis Of Down’s Syndrome In Fetus
A group of doctors from NUS led by Dr Mahesh Choolani have found a faster way to detect Down’s Syndrome in unborn babies. The technique, patented as FlashFISH takes only a few hours to get the results instead of two days in the current procedure. Fetal cells in the amniotic fluid drawn from the womb are examined by maneuvering a molecular probe directly into the cells’ nucleus.The probe is a tiny portion of DNA that can attach to a matching sequence in the fetal cell and identify whether it is abnormal. In 2006, Flashfish was licensed to local company, Fetal Genetix Pte Ltd, for commercialisation.
First Anti-Cancer Product
S*BIO Pte Ltd started clinical trial of a novel anti-cancer compound in 2007. The compound, SB939, is designed to be a ‘best-in-class’ anti-cancer therapeutic amongst histonedeacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors being developed worldwide, and has demonstrated the potential to bring additional therapeutic benefits due to its high potency, superior oral availability and good tolerability. Trials were conducted at the National University Cancer Institute, Singapore and the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore. In 2011, it was tested in patients with advanced lung cancer.
First Bone Screwing Locator
Surgeons in SGH and NUH have been using the PediGuard since 2007. It is a hand-held wireless drill that emits beeps to guide a surgeon to locate areas of larger bone mass to place a screw. The PediGuard was first assembled in Singapore by SpineVision Singapore with parts made in France. It costs S$2,000 and is good for a single use only.
First Nanotechnology Device In Cataract Surgery
In the normal phacoemulsification technique of cataract surgery, ultrasound waves are used to break down cataracts in the eye. This method carries a small risk of cornea damage due to the uncontrolled heat transfer from the ultrasound waves. In a joint effort by The Eye Institute and NTU in 2006, researchers developed a piezoelectric micro-actuator to localise the process. The new device combines mechanical and ultrasonic energy into a single instrument, giving doctors performing the flexibility of alternating between the 2 methods, depending on the density of the cataract and the stage of surgery.
First Fully Restorable Dental Scaffold
In 2007, biotechnology company, Bio-Scaffold, came up with a tiny scaffold to support the hole left by a lost tooth. Bioscaff Alvelac allows natural bone healing to take place across the gap, while preventing the surrounding bone from collapsing into the hole. When bone collapses into the cavity and is resorbed into the body, it may lead to less bone for future tooth implants or dentures.
First Drug-Delivering Hydrogel
Dr Motoichi Kurisawa, a researcher from IBN, invented a hydrogel that can be injected into the human body, in 2005. The gel, made of almost 90 percent water and biocompatible substances, can deliver drugs or cells at targeted sites or act as a scaffold for tissue repair. It is formed through the injection of 2 types of solution. After the drugs or cells are gradually released, the hydrogel will decompose, thus removing the need for surgery.
First Painless Chemotherapy
Led by Dr Yi-Yan Yang, IBN created smart, extremely small nanocarriers in Mar 2005 that are able to carry anti-cancer chemotherapy drugs only to where they are needed in the body. This method severely reduces or even eliminates the severe side-effects traditionally associated with conventional chemotherapy.
First Batteries Powered By Urine
Led by Dr Ki Bang Lee in 2005, scientists at the IBN had invented a urine-activated credit-card sized battery that can be used in test kits. Urine is used in tests for diabetes, kidney problems and pregnancy, and the battery was ideal for such diagnostic kits. 1.5 volts of electricity is available once urine is added to the paper battery steeped in copper chloride and sandwiched between strips of magnesium and copper.
First Blood Pressure Monitoring Watch
Dr Ting Choon Meng, a medical doctor, invented a digital watch that provides 24-hour monitoring of blood pressure patterns. The BPro watch was launched in 2005 and received certification in 2006 from the US FDA.
First Drug-Dispensing Contact Lens
IBN has invented a contact lens capable of releasing precise amounts of medication to treat glaucoma and other eye diseases, doing away with eye drops, the developers said in late 2004. Contact lens wearers with dry eyes may also benefit from this invention as the material can be modified to produce self-lubricating contact lenses.
Asia’s First DNA-Based Prenatal Screening Test
Parkway Laboratory Services developed a DNA-based method for the early detection of genetic abnormalities known as QF-PCR (Quantitative Flourescent – Polymerase Chain Reaction). This new method is a cost-effective alternative to the labour intensive culture technique. It cuts down reporting time from two weeks to just over a day. It was launched on Aug 2003.
3 World-First Stents
Prof Freddy Boey has developed 3 ‘world first’ stents – the biodegradable multiple drug-releasing stent, the biodegradable drug-releasing urological stent and the PZT micro-pump active stent. Stents remaining in the body can be a liability and interfere with diagnostic tests. To resolve these issues, Prof Boey, Assoc Prof Subbu Venkatraman and a NTU team developed a stent made of polymers. This is designed to break down into lactic acid, which can be absorbed harmlessly into the body. The stent is also able to release drugs that prevent proliferation of cell growth and blood clotting. Up to 20 layers of drugs can be released at varying rates, and they can even be tailor-made to suit individual patients. The urological biodegradable drug-releasing stent, was developed in collaboration with Dr Chia Sing Joo of TTSH. The stent, placed in the urethra, can release antibiotics and other relevant drugs progressively after implantation. It can dissolve after three months. The third stent, a frictionless impedance micro-pump, was developed with Assoc Prof Ma Jan and is a collaborative project between NTU and the California Institute of Technology. By inserting this stent into vessels, it is able to pump blood to areas that require oxygen, or drain fluid from areas that have excess fluids. It is programmed to vibrate to induce flow, even at a very slow flow rate.
First Mass Temperature Screening System
The Infrared Fever Screening System was developed during the 2003 SARS scare to enable the mass screening of people to detect those who have a higher temperature than normal. It was developed by ST Electronics and the DSTA. The system produces a colour-coded thermograph of each passerby – red means hot, green means not. Dozens were sold for use in airports, hospitals, hotels and other public spaces throughout Asia. It was named one of Time Magazine’s Coolest Inventions for 2003.
Smallest Piezoelectric Cardiovascular Pump
In 2003, Prof Freddy Boey, Assoc Prof Ma Jan and their team at NTU designed the world’s smallest heart pump, weighing only 50g. Being smaller and lighter, it is easier to implant and there is less risk of infection. Unlike other pumps, it is totally non-metallic and can be coated with biocompatible materials. It also does not need bearings. These factors prevent complications from immunological rejection, thrombotic infection and blood clotting. The pump, in fact, can be made tiny enough (less than 1mm wide and 1cm long) to be inserted into smaller veins to act as a ‘booster’ pump that drives blood through the parts of the body starved of blood. The pump has been commercially licensed to Orqis Medical Pte Ltd, an American biomedical company.
First Biodegradable Bone Mesh
Researchers from NUS and the NUH have developed a biodegradable plastic mesh that can be used to cover holes in the skull of patients operated on for head injuries. The mesh-like plastic allows bone tissues to grow in the mesh and will disintegrate once the bone is fully formed in about 24 months. Human trials started in 2002.
Largest Private Healthcare Group
The Parkway Pantai is the region’s leading private healthcare group. The group is majority-owned by Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Khazanah. It operates 16 hospitals with more than 3,000 beds in Asia. It has 4 hospitals in Singapore: Mount Elizabeth, Mount Elizabeth Novena, Gleneagles and Parkway East.
Only Hospital With No Room Sharing
Patients at the Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital are all housed in single-bed rooms. Room charges range from S$578 to S$12,888 a night.
Largest Bed Management System
In 2009, SGH implemented a bed management system that uses radio frequency to help cut waiting time. The S$3 million technology from the United States uses colour codes, RFID tags for patients, and readers to cue hospital staff with real-time information on patient location, room status, and hospital bed occupancy. It is the world’s largest integrated bed management system.
Most Babies Born In A Maternity Hospital
KKH won a place in the world records in 1966 for having the largest number of births in a single medical facility – 39,835 births. KKH held this record for 10 years. More than 85 percent of all the births took place in KKH, where more than 100 babies were delivered daily.
Singapore General Hospital is Singapore’s largest hospital, dedicated to providing multi-disciplinary medical care. It is Singapore’s public sector flagship hospital, with 1,500 inpatient beds and employing about 6,000 staff. 74,000 patients are warded in the hospital each year.
Most Expensive Suite
Opened in I Jul 2012, the Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital’s Chairman Suite is 140 sq m and costs S$12,888 a night. It comes with 2 bedrooms, a spacious living area, a kitchenette, a private lift, an alcove for security personnel and 5 meals a day for up to 4 people.
First Community Hospital
The St Andrew’s Medical Mission was founded in 1913 by Dr Charlotte Ferguson-Davie, wife of Singapore’s first Anglican bishop, to provide medical care for the destitute. It started as a small dispensary in a shophouse at Bencoolen Street. In the following year, the government gave to the Mission an old school building at Cross Street to be used as a hospital for women. In 1992, it became the St Andrew’s Community Hospital for non-chronic patients.
First Leper Home
In Oct 1873, the Singapore Leper Asylum was built. It was later rebuilt on Trafalgar Estate in 1930 and renamed Trafalgar Home. In the 1990s, a cure was found for leprosy and the home was closed in 1993. Former leprosy patients with deformities and needy circumstances are sheltered in the SILRA Home.
First General Hospital
The first General Hospital was opened in 1821 for British troops at Bras Basah Road. The wooden shed situated inside the cantonment consisted of separate wards for European soldiers, sepoys (Indian soldiers) and native people.
First Maternity Hospital
The 8-bed Maternity Hospital opened in 1888 at the junction of Victoria Street and Stamford Canal. The first patient was admitted on 2 Jan 1889 and her baby was safely delivered.
First Privately Funded Hospital
Tan Tock Seng, who came to Singapore in 1819 when he was 21, was known for his generosity. His most famous gesture was a gift of $5,000 to build the Chinese Paupers’ Hospital at Pearl’s Hill in 1844. Construction took some years and the first batch of patients was admitted in 1849. He died in the following year and his eldest son, Tan Kim Cheng, donated $3,000 for an extension to the hospital and to improve the facilities. The hospital’s name was changed to Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
First Mental Institution
The first mental institution was the Insane Hospital, opened in 1841. It became the Mental Hospital in 1928 and was renamed Woodbridge Hospital in 1951 and finally the Institute of Mental Health in 1993.
First Blood Bank
Blood collection was introduced to Singapore on a large scale in 1940 because of the threat of World War II. The former civilian Singapore Blood Transfusion Service was established in 1946 after the end of the war. 287 donations were received from voluntary blood donors in its first year of operation. This has increased to a current annual average of 87,000 units of blood, run by the Blood Services Group.
First Skin Bank
SGH’s Skin Bank was set up in 1991 to build up an ample supply of donated skin for patients who sustained major burns. In 1998, the Skin Bank stored its first deceased donor skin using cryopreservation (freezing down) technique.
First Cord Blood Bank
Singapore was the first in Asia to set up a functional cord blood bank. SGH, in collaboration with the Singapore Bone Marrow Donor Programme, started the cord blood collection programme in Aug 1997. The Singapore Cord Blood Bank, based in KKH, is now a not-for-profit public facility with cord blood contributions from all major local hospitals.
First Hospital Interactive Health Portal
In 2012, the National Skin Centre launched its online Patient Health Portal, the first for a health institution in Singapore, and possibly in Asia that will enable patients to conduct a variety of tasks related to their treatments. Through the portal, patients can correspond with the healthcare team via email about medication, treatment and procedure queries. They can also be connected to more information concerning their medical condition.
Largest Private Dental Practice
Established in 1996, Q&M Dental has grown to a total of 50 clinics islandwide, 4 dental centres and one mobile dental clinic, thus making it the largest private dental healthcare group in Singapore. It has more than 150 dentists.
Largest Chain Of GP Clinics
Raffles Medical Group, established in 1976, is the leading private integrated healthcare organisation providing a wide range of primary, specialist healthcare and hospital services with a network of 72 clinics islandwide, and a full service private hospital – Raffles Hospital.
Largest TCM Chain
Eu Yan Sang was founded in 1879 and currently has a distribution network of 212 traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) retail outlets in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Macau and China. It has 40 retail shops or counters in Singapore. It also operates a chain of 25 TCM clinics in Singapore and Malaysia and one medical centre in Hong Kong.
Largest TCM Retail Chain
Established in 1986, Hockhua started its business in the wholesale of American Ginseng imported from Canada and later imported bird’s nest. Today the group has 52 retail outlets and 13 oriental herbal tea stores throughout Singapore. Turnover exceeded S$100 million.
Largest Medical Clinic Chain
Healthway Medical has a network of more than 120 private medical centres and clinics. Started in 1998, it also has specialist and dental clinics operating under the names of Nobel and Neuglow.
First Dedicated Lasik Centre
Dr Tony Ho started Clearvision Eye Clinic and Lasik Centre, the first dedicated private Lasik facility in Singapore in 2001. He also founded Eye Care Clinic in MEH in 1993.
Largest Comprehensive Dental Clinic
Dr Wong Keng Mun established T32 Dental Clinic, the largest all-in-one dental centre in South-East Asia. Opened in 2007, it occupys the penthouse of Camden Medical Centre covering 11,500 sq ft, and equipped with its own research and training facilities, and laboratory.
First Dedicated Lasik Centre
The Lasik Surgery Clinic is the largest clinic in private practice that specialises in the surgical procedure to correct eyesight defects by changing the shape of the cornea using a laser. The clinic performs over 2000 surgeries a month.
First Home For Mentally Retarded
In Oct 1952, the New Market Children’s Home, was started for children with mental deficiency. Situated at New Market Road, it was administered by the Department of Social Welfare.
First Registry For The Disabled
1953 marked the beginning of a compilation of a registry for the blind, deaf and mentally retarded. It was the start of a systematic approach to helping the disabled.
Largest Chain Of TCM Clinics
Founded by Huang Chuan Sheng in 1999, Ma Kuang Healthcare Group has grown from its first TCM clinic in Middle Road to a network of 20 clinics islandwide in Singapore and 10 clinics in Malaysia.
First MRI Training Centre
In 1986, Dr Boey Hong Khim set up the very firrst regional Magnetic Resonance Imaging unit in private practice. MediRad Associates shot into prominence as the first training centre for MRI in the region. EDB even named him Singapore’s ‘first medical entrepreneur’. The medical specialist in radiology was responsible for planning the radiology department in SGH, NUH and TTSH.
First Use Of Teleradiology
Digitalisation of images such as x-rays, instead of films, allows the sharing of resources among polyclinics and hospitals and the use of teleradiology, in which the reading of routine x-rays can be outsourced to more cost-efficient countries. In Dec 2005, a pilot programme was initiated at Ang Mo Kio Polyclinic where the x-rays images were transmitted to India.
First Quarantine Centre
When hordes of immigrants began making their way to Singapore bringing not only wealth but sicknesses, a quarantine centre was built in 1874 at St John’s Island. It was just in time to attend to more than 1,300 cholera-infected Chinese coolies brought in by the SS Milton. Victims of beri-beri were also brought into St John’s Lazaretto beginning in 1901.
First Day-Care Centre For Mentally Disabled Children
The Chin-Pu Centre was opened in 1961 for children with mental disorders with a significant donation of S$10,000 from Rotary Club West. The government provided the premises at Ah Hood Road.
In 1854, the sisters of the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus, led by Sister Mathilde, set up an orphanage at Victoria Street. When word spread that the sisters were caring for orphans, babies wrapped in rags and newspaper started appearing at the convent gates.
First Drug Rehabilitation Centre
Lim Boon Keng was a medical doctor and an anti-opium activist. In 1906, he established an experimental drug rehabilitation centre funded by a group of Peranakans under the auspices of the Singapore Anti-Opium Society.
St Joseph’s Home was opened in 1978 in Jurong by the Catholic Welfare Services, as a home for the aged and destitute. The terminally ill can seek temporary relief there for shelter, food and medical care. It also has a chapel and gardens to provide a peaceful and serene ambience for patients.
Largest Hospice Home Care Provider
More than 49,000 patients have been treated by HCA Hospice Care since it was founded in 1989. It looks after more than 3,500 home-care patients and 800 day-care patients a year.
The oldest known pharmacy was the Medical Hall, founded in 1882 at Battery Road by Dr Koehn and Mr Wiespaur. They had a branch at the junction of North Bridge Road and Bras Basah Road.
First Maggot Research Laboratory
NTU has set up the first maggot research laboratory in Singapore. It intends to concentrate its research into the analysis of maggot secretions such as its make-up, debridement chemical components, identification of anti-microbial components and susceptible pathogenic bacteria. In addition, the lab will explore the cryogenic storage, powdering and dissection of maggots to identify novel components and its unique properties.
In 1963, Queenstown Polyclinic was the first polyclinic to be built. Situated at Margaret Drive, it had a laboratory, medical and dental clinics.
Top Causes Of Death
In 2010, 28.5 percent of deaths in Singapore were caused by cancer. The next two killers are ischaemic heart disease with 18.7 percent and pneumonia with 15.7 percent.
Top Causes Of Blindness
Cataract leads the list of reasons for blindness in 2010. This is followed by under-corrected refractive errors, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
Highest Rate Of Myopia
Prof Donald Tan, chairman of the Singapore Eye Research Institute estimated that 80 percent of teenagers in Singapore are short-sighted. Although no comprehensive survey has yet been carried out on myopia, it is generally believed that Singapore has the highest prevalence rate in the world for myopia.
First Disease Named After Discoverer
Dr Tay Chong Hai was the first in South-East Asia to have a disease named after him – Tay’s Syndrome, a rare congenital disease. He published a paper on the disease in 1971. Tay’s Syndrome is characterised by ichtyosis, brittle hair, intellectual impairment, decreased fertility and short stature. Dr Tay graduated with MBBS in Singapore in 1959. He was also the first editor of The Scientific Victorian.
First AIDS Cases
Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome was first detected in Singapore in May 1985 in a male patient, 2 years after it made international headlines. The first 3 cases of AIDS here were identified by Dr KV Ratnam, a dermato-immunologist at the Middle Road Hospital.
First Compulsory Screening Of VD
In an attempt to control the spread of venereal diseases in 1872, the female ward of KKH was converted into Lock Hospital for compulsory screening and treatment of women with venereal diseases. In 1888, with a change in the law, compulsory screening and treatment were stopped.
At the peak of the epidemic in Sep-Oct 1970, 60,118 patients reportedly received treatment for viral conjunctivitis at government clinics. The illness began rather suddenly with the patients getting teary and a feeling that the eyes were invaded by a foreign body. Most recovered within 2 weeks. The cause of this illness is a new variant of Coxsackie virus A24.
Worst Nationwide Quarantine
During the SARS outbreak in Feb 2003, the government invoked the Infectious Diseases Act to quarantine all those exposed to SARS patients. This legislation allows mandatory home quarantine for 10 days. All SARS inpatients who were discharged from a hospital were on telephone surveillance for 21 days. All probable SARS inpatients who had recovered and were discharged were to be home quarantined for 14 days. In Apr, the Act was amended to require persons who might have an infectious disease to go to a designated treatment cente and to prohibit them from going to public places. Those breaking home quarantine face the possibility of electronic tagging and forced detention. 238 people were infected by the outbreak, 33 of whom died.
Largest Research Funding
In Sep 2007, the National Medical Research Council awarded researchers from the NUS and NUH a S$25 million funding for research on stomach cancer. The disease is the fourth most common form of cancer among Singapore males. The research team leader was Prof Yeoh Khay Guan.
First Government Doctor
Dr Thomas Prendergast, who accompanied Raffles to Singapore in 1819, was Singapore’s first government doctor. He was based at the General Hospital in Bras Basah Road for British troops. He was also sub-assistant surgeon.
First Locally Trained Doctors
7 licentiates who had graduated from the then Straits and Federated Malay States Government Medical School received their Diplomas in Medicine, Surgery and Midwifery in May 1910. They were Chen Su Lan, Edwin W De Cruz, Wilfred F Carnegy, J Granapragasam, SR Krishnan, JS Lee and MW Chill. The school became King Edward VII College of Medicine in 1912.
First Local Woman Doctors
Born in 1895, Lee Choo Neo went to SCGS and RGS. In 1911 she became the first Chinese girl to earn a Senior Cambridge certificate and subsequently she enrolled at the local medical school. Although she was Singapore’s fourth female medical graduate, in 1920 she became the first woman medical practitioner. After working at SGH, in 1930, she opened her own Lee Dispensary at Bras Basah Road.
First Local Chair Of Medicine
Prof Ernest Steven Monteiro was a pioneer in Preventive Medicine. He led the fight against infectious diseases in the 1950s when Singapore was plagued by malnutrition, poverty and poor living conditions. In 1948, he was offered the Chair of Clinical Medicine at the local medical college. He was also dean and deputy principal of the University of Malaya.
First Local Professor Of Surgery
Heart surgeon Prof Yeoh Ghim Seng was the first local to be appointed Professor of Surgery from 1956 to 1962. He entered Parliament in 1966 and was Speaker of the House from 1970-1988.
First Local Head Of Radiology
Dr Khoo Fun Yong was appointed head of Radiology department in SGH in1956, a position he held till he retired in 1967. He established the School of Radiology in 1963 where he served as its first director.
First Local O&G Specialist
Dr Benjamin Henry Sheares, Singapore’s President (1971-1981), was the first Singaporean to specialise in obstetrics and gynaecology in 1931. He was also the first Singaporean to be appointed to head the O&G department of the University of Malaya in 1946. In 1975, he was the first to be conferred an Honorary FRCOG, the highest honour that the college can bestow.
First Professor Of Paediatrics
Prof Wong Hock Boon became the country’s first Professor of Paediatrics in 1962 when he founded the university’s department of Paediatrics. He held the post until 1988. He was credited with forming the School of Postgraduate Medical Studies at NUS in 1965 and was its first director.
First Trained Nurse
The first account of trained nurses in Singapore was in 1888, when the Maternity Hospital employed Mrs Woldstein, a qualified midwife.
First Forensic Pathologist
Prof Chao Tzee Cheng was Singapore’s first fully-trained forensic pathologist. By 1968, he had obtained his specialised skills from the Royal London Hospital, Medical College. In his lifetime, Prof Chao performed over 25,000 autopsies and was the expert witness in many unsolved murder cases worldwide.
Prof Arthur Lim, ophthalmologist, was the first Singaporean to obtain the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1962. He was also the first Singaporean recipient of the Royal College of Surgeons’ International Medal in 2001. Only one medal is given out every year to a surgeon from a Commonwealth country.
In 2004, Prof Venkataraman Anantharaman of SGH became the first doctor in Asia to be presented with the Fellowship of the International Federation of Emergency Medicine.
First World Technology Network Member
The World Technology Network (WTN), founded in 1997, gathers the brightest minds in science and technology. Dr Jonathan Loh of IMCB was included in the prestigious group in Oct 2012 for his work in developing a safer method to create stem cells. In 2009, his team was the first in the world to convert human blood cells into stem cells.
First To Win Asean Young Scientist and Technologist Award
Dr Lisa Ng became the first Singaporean and the first woman to win the Asean Young Scientist and Technologist Award in Jul 2008. The award recognised her work in preparing infectious disease laboratories in the region for any possible epidemic. Dr Ng works at the Singapore Immunology Network (SiGN), under A*STAR.
Largest Weight Loss In A 3-Month Slimming Exercise
Viveganandam Deveraj became the winner of reality TV show, The Biggest Loser Asia Season 2, when he lost a total of 67kg in a span of 3 months. The 1.81-tall winner reduced to 77kg, almost half his original weight of 144kg. His weight loss percentage of 46.53 percent put him ahead of his Thai competitor and earned him the grand prize of US$100,000.
Oldest Surviving Organ Donor
In 1974, 93-year-old Woon Peck Jee donated her right kidney to her son Tan See Yong at a hospital in Taiwan. She took him there because Singapore did not perform kidney transplants then. However, he did not last long after the procedure and died of infection 4 months after the successful transplant.
First Honorary Nursing Doctorate
Pauline Tan of NUH was the first nurse in Singapore to be conferred an honorary doctorate in nursing by La Trobe University in Australia. The doctorate was awarded to her in recognition of her contributions to healthcare in Singapore and to the advancement of the nursing profession. La Trobe has given out only 2 of such doctorates before her.
Most Premature Surviving Baby
Siti Aishah Khalid had just been 23 weeks in her mother’s womb when she was born on 18 Jan 2004. She weighed only 415g when she was born at SGH.
The Chin quintuplets were born on 1 Apr 1997 at the KKH. All of the infants survived. They were named Soon-kit (Adriel), Soon-an (André), Li-thing (Alicia), Li-en (Amanda), and Li-quin (Annabelle). This was the first known case of quintuplets in Singapore.
South-East Asia’s first sextuplets were born at the Gleneagles Hospital in 27 Nov 1998. The first-time parents were Susan Tjokrosetio, 26, and Andre Prijono. Using C-section, the 33-week babies were delivered by Dr Christopher Chen with 8 other doctors and 15 nurses, starting with daughter Deidree, followed by Danny, Davis, Dylon, Douglas and Dominick.
Longest Interval Between Birth Of Quadruplets
Seah Siew Hwee’s first quadruplet, a boy was born on 14 Sep 2004 at 9.43 pm. The remaining 3 quadruplets (all girls) were delivered by Caesarean section on 23 Sep 2004 between 11.34 and 11.36 pm, 9 days 1 hr 53 min later.
Longest Married Couple
Wee Siew Yim, 98, and his wife Aw Quee Lian, 94, were betrothed to each other when they were 8 and 4, respectively. They were married 13 years later. In 2007, after being married for 77 years, they had 9 children, 17 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.
At 114, Fadilah Noor Abbe is not only the oldest Singaporean in 2012 but also among the 10 oldest people in the world, if her birth year of 1897 is verified. She lives with her granddaughter, two great-grandchildren and their father in Bedok. She has outlived all her 6 siblings and 3 children.
Longest Extracted Human Tooth
The world’s longest human tooth extracted measured 3.2 cm, which was removed from Loo Hui Jing on 6 Apr 2009. The procedure took place at the Eli Dental Surgery and performed by Dr Ng Lay Choo.
First Laser Refractive Surgery
SNEC performed the first excimer laser refractive surgical procedure in South-East Asia in 1992, using the earlier photorefractive keratectomy technique.
First ‘Tooth-In-Eye’ Surgery
A team of surgeons from SNEC and National Dental Centre performed the first successful osteo-odonto keratoprosthesis (OOKP) surgery here in Jul 2004, the first in South-East Asia. This surgery involves putting a small piece of the 19-year-old Thai boy’s tooth into his eye to restore his vision.
First Corneal Transplant Donor Insertion Device
In 2009, Dr Donald Tan’s team at SNEC introduced the first FDA-approved donor insertion device for corneal transplant – the Tan Endoglide. The device enables surgeons to consistently deliver donor tissue through a small incision, with minimal endothelial cell loss, with the surgeon in full control of the donor at all stages of insertion.
First Macular Translocation
In 2001, TTSH doctors perform the first successful cases of macular translocation in South-East Asia. In this operation, the retina is detached and relocated to a healthier spot in the eye.
First To Use Balloon Sinuplasty To Treat Sinusitis
In 2007, surgeons from MEH became the first in Asia to use a new technique to treat sinusitis. Balloon sinuplasty was used, which involves a wire being guided up a patient’s nose and then threading in a small balloon. When inflated, the balloon expands and opens the sinuses. This will allow infected mucus to drain out and relieve built-up pressure.
First Airway Stenting
In 1995, TTSH was the first hospital in South-East Asia to perform tracheobronchial stenting for central airway obstruction.
First Cochlear Implantation
In 1989, SGH’s ENT surgeons performed the first cochlear implant surgery in South-East Asia to give hearing to the profoundly deaf.
First Limb Replantation
The first successful limb replantation was performed at AH in 1975. Surgeons successfully re-attached a severed upper limb of a 17-year-old patient involved in an industrial accident.
First Forearm To Shoulder Blade Surgical Attachment
In 2000, a SGH team performed the world’s first procedure of forearm attachment to the shoulder blade.
First Hip Resurfacing Procedure
In 2006, Asia’s first ‘hip resurfacing’ procedure was performed in NUH. The technique is used to replace a small portion of damaged cartilage in hip joints with a metal surface. This surgery allows surgeons to relieve a patient’s pain while avoiding the need for a conventional hip replacement.
First Meniscal Transplant
Dr Tan Jee Lim performed the first meniscal transplant in Singapore at CGH. The surgical procedure was performed on Nitesh Gurung, 17, in 2001. The meniscus is a C-shaped pad in the knee acting as a shock absorber and makes the motion of the knee smooth. A graft was implanted in the knee using key-hole surgery.
First Unicompartmental Arthroplasty
In 2000, doctors at SGH performed Asia’s first unicompartmental arthroplasty. This minimally invasive surgery offers an effective treatment option for patients with arthritis of the medial compartment of the knee, sparing them the need for a total knee replacement while ensuring faster recovery and a shorter hospital stay.
First PELD For Slipped Disc Treatment
In 2002, SGH performed the first percutaneous endoscopic lumbar discectomy (PELD) for slipped disc. PELD is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that provides quick relief for patients without the need for large incision or hospital stay.
First Fitbone Surgery
Fitbone surgery involves cutting a leg bone then and then attaching an electro-mechanical nail to it. This will stretch the bone and soft tissue around it by 1-2 mm a day for about half a year. In 2001, TTSH doctors performed the first such surgery in Asia.
First Middle Ear Implantation
Dr Lynne Lim Hsueh Yee of NUH carried out Asia’s first Vibrant Soundbridge middle ear implant surgery on Lim Sin Hoa, 73, in 2006. This almost weightless implant is used in situations where hearing aids are not able to amplify sounds sufficiently. This may be for selected types of sensorineural hearing loss, or conductive hearing loss with abnormal middle ear bones or absent ear canals.
First Bone Marrow Transplants
On 31 May 2012 at NUH, Alvin Ang, 41, donated a part of his liver to his identical twin brother Allen, who is younger by 12 min. In 1983, when they were 12, Alvin donated his bone marrow at NUH as Allen had leukemia. The first adult marrow transplant was carried out in SGH in Jul 1985.
First Separation Of Siamese Twins
Singapore’s first Siamese twins (Karen and Kate Yong) were born at KKH on 11 Sep 1961. Joined at the chest and abdomen, the twins were separated on 11 Dec 1961 by Drs Yeoh Ghim Seng and JE Choo, at SGH. Karen survived but Kate died of complications arising from the lack of skin on 12 Dec, surviving for just 15 hours following the surgery.
First Adult Siamese Twins Separation
Laleh and Ladan Bijani, 29-year-old Iranian twins who were born conjoined at their heads, were separated after a 50-hr surgery but died within hours of each other on 8 Jul 2003 at Raffles Hospital. The cause of death was blood loss during the final stage of a surgical attempt to separate the twin’s conjoined skulls.
First Caesarean Section
The first case of caesarean section performed in Singapore was recorded in 1907.
11-month-old Nepalese conjoined twins, Jamuna and Ganga Shrestha, were connected at the tops of their heads and their brains were partially fused. Surgeons managed to separate them after a 97-hr operation at SGH in Apr 2001.
First Test-Tube Baby
The first test-tube baby was born on 19 May 1983 at KKH. The 2.5-kg boy, Samuel Lee Jian Wei, son of Mr and Mrs Lee Chye Huat, was also Asia’s first successful in-vitro fertilisation baby. Prof SS Ratnam and his team from NUH delivered the baby. This was just 5 years after the world’s first test-tube baby was delivered in England.
First Test-Tube Twins
The first test-tube twins were born to a ¬nursing sister, Mrs Evelyn Loo and her ¬husband, both 33, in Nov 1986. The babies were named Daphne and Diana.
First Obstetric Ultrasound
In 1978, Drs Boey Hong Khim and Siva did the first obstetric ultrasound in Singapore at Toa Payoh Hospital, using a donated ultrasound machine.
First Donor-Egg Baby
Singapore’s first donor-egg baby, a girl, was born in Feb 1991 at NUH. A second baby was born on 7 Sep 1991 at SGH. The latter baby, a boy weighing 4.13 kg, was conceived with eggs taken from another woman which were fertilised with the father’s sperm. The embryo was later implanted into the mother’s womb.
First Frozen Embryo Babies
The first frozen embryo twins, a boy and girl, were delivered by caesarian section at NUH in 1987, a first for Singapore as well as Asia. The procedure was pioneered by Prof SS Ratnam.
First Births From Frozen Eggs And Frozen Sperm
Drs Chia Choy May and Cathryn Chan, succeeded in achieving a successful pregnancy from frozen eggs and frozen sperm. The mother gave birth to a pair of healthy twins in Dec 2000 at TMC. This is believed to be the first births in the medical fraternity worldwide.
First Pregnancy By Surgical Sperm Retrieval
In 1990, SGH had the first successful pregnancy in Asia achieved through surgical sperm retrieval.
First Micro-Insemination Sperm Transfer
The world’s first baby conceived through micro-insemination sperm transfer was born at NUH in Apr 1989. His father’s sperm was transferred via a fine tube into an area just outside the egg membrane.
First Laser-Assisted Hatching Of Embryos
In 2001, KKH’s IVF Centre introduced laser-assisted hatching (LAH) for couples undergoing in-vitro fertilisation. The ‘hatching’ involves the use of laser to create a small hole in the zona pellucida prior to embryo transfer, thereby enabling the embryo to ‘hatch’ from its eggshell for implantation on the uterine wall. In 2002, it had the first LAH live birth.
First Fertilisation By Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection
The first baby delivered by a procedure whereby a single sperm was injected directly into an egg was at TMC in Dec 1995. The hospital’s IVF unit performed the procedure jointly with overseas gynaecologists. It delivered babies by assisted hatching treatment and by blastocyst cultured frozen embryos in 1999 and 2000 respectively.
First Isolation Of Stem Cells From Human Embryos
Prof Ariff Bongso of NUS is the first in the world to pioneer techniques to isolate stem cells from human embryos. His first major breakthrough was in 1991, when he developed a method known as co-culture. This enabled the growth of human embryos in a laboratory dish for up to 5 days to the blastocyst stage, which can help infertile couples conceive. This method was used widely by IVF programmes worldwide until recently when new generation cell-free liquid culture media were developed from his co-culture system. In 1992, he had his second breakthrough when he produced the world’s first blastocyst transfer baby and increased pregnancy rates. In 1994, Prof Bongso became the first researcher in the world to derive embryonic stem cells from such 5-day-old human embryos.
First Woman To Give Birth After The Removal Of Ovaries
24-year-old Ang Ying Chun had been diagnosed with cancer, resulting in her ovaries being removed. Before doctors at KKH took out the second ovary, embryologist Ethiraj Balaji Prasath extracted immature eggs and fertilised them using her husband’s sperm. The embryos were implanted in her womb and she gave birth on 25 May 2012.
First Laparoscopic Assisted Vaginal Hysterectomy
KKH performed Singapore’s first ¬laparoscopic assisted procedure to remove the uterus, Fallopian tubes, and ovaries through the vagina in 1992.
First Single-Port Laparoscopy
Dr Anthony Siow and Dr Jasmine Mohd of KKH carried out the first single-port laparoscopic hysterectomy in Sep 2009. Unlike conventional laparoscopy where 3-4 small incisions were needed, the team carried out the procedure by making an incision of just 2 cm in the navel. A few days later, 4 KKH surgeons carried out the first single-port laparoscopy to treat an ectopic pregnancy.
First Tension Free Vaginal Tape Operation
In 1998, KKH was the first hospital in Asia after Taiwan to offer the tension-free vaginal tape operation. It is a procedure designed to provide support for a sagging urethra to treat urinary incontinence.
Introduction Of The Sheares Operation
In 1956, Prof Benjamin Sheares became the first person to successfully construct a new vagina for patients with congenital atresia. The process was later known as the Sheares Operation. Women with the reconstruction had successfully achieved pregnancies.
Introduction Of The Singapore Flap
Pioneered by plastic surgeon Julian Wee and paediatric surgeon VT Joseph, the Singapore Flap uses a piece of tissue from the thigh, comprising muscles, nerves and blood vessels, for vaginal reconstruction. It is for patients born without a vagina and was first performed at SGH in 1992.
First Sex-Change Operation
The first sex-change operation was successfully performed on a 24-year-old man in Jul 1971 at the KKH by Prof SS Ratnam of NUH.
First Open-Heart Operation
In 1960, the first human open-heart operation in Singapore was performed by Prof Yeoh Ghim Seng under hypothermia. On 28 Jan 1965 at SGH, surgeons Drs NK Yong, SC Ong and NC Foong performed the first cardiac bypass procedure on Chua Ah Moi. It was the first closure of an arterial septic defect ever attempted here. It was also the first occasion when a heart-lung machine was used.
First Closed-Heart Operation
In 1959, the first closed-heart surgery was performed by Prof Yeoh Ghim Seng.
First Heart Transplant
A team of doctors at SGH, led by Dr Tong Ming Chuan, ¬performed the first heart transplant in Jul 1990. The donor heart came from a construction worker, Ong Soon, 41, who died in an industrial accident, while the recipient was Wee Soo Hup, a 59-year-old retired information officer who was suffering from terminal heart disease.
First To Undergo A Heart Transplant
In 1985, journalist Seah Chiang Nee became the first South-East Asian to have his heart transplanted. It was performed by Dr Victor Chang in Sydney, Australia.
First Balloon Angioplasty
Joseph Chan Mong Hong, 66, was the first Singaporean to undergo percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty, under Dr Leslie Lam, at SGH in 1988. An alternative to the bypass operation, it involves passing a balloon attached to a catheter to the point where the blocked artery is, to unblock it.
First Cardiac Arrhythmia Surgery
In 1988, SGH was the first hospital in South-East Asia to provide cardiac arrhythmia surgery which corrects the abnormality in the rhythm of the heart.
First Minimally Invasive Coronary Artery Bypass
The minimally invasive operation in Nov 1995 in NUH was the first performed in the region. In the procedure, arteries or veins from elsewhere in the patient’s body are grafted to the coronary arteries to improve blood supply to heart.
In 1993, MEH was the first hospital in Asia to successfully perform a cardiomyoplasty procedure and transmyocardial revascularisation procedure. Cardiomyoplasty is a surgical procedure in which healthy muscle from another part of the body is wrapped around the heart to provide support for the failing heart. In the other surgery, laser is used to create small channels in the heart muscle, improving blood flow in the heart.
First Bipolar RF Ablation
In 2003, National Heart Centre performed the first bipolar radio frequency ablation in Asia.
First Long Bypass To The Brain
In Mar 2002, NUH and National Neuroscience Institute successfully performed the first long bypass to the brain in Singapore. In this surgery, a vein harvested from the patient’s leg was attached to the internal carotid artery in the neck and the major brain artery, ensuring adequate blood supply to the brain.
First Cord Blood Transplant From Unrelated Donor
The world’s first cord blood transplant from an unrelated donor took place in Jul 2001. The patient, Oh Tze Sun, a 5-year-old Malaysian Chinese boy suffering from thalassaemia major, a hereditary blood disorder which reduces the body’s haemoglobin level, underwent the transplant performed by doctors from SGH and NUH led by Dr Patrick Tan. Since then, transfusion of red blood cells was not needed by him.
First Blood Stem Cell Transplant For A Thalassaemia Major Patient
In Sep 1995, the world’s first peripheral blood stem cell transplant was carried out on 4-year-old thalassaemia major patient, Joshua Soong Chuan Shen at SGH. In this case, stem cells were extracted from the donor’s blood instead of the traditional method via the bone marrow.
First Blood Stem Cell Transplant For A Thalassaemia Major Patient
KKH performed the first intrauterine blood transfusion for an anaemic fetus (due to Rhesus disease) while in the mother’s womb, in Nov 1993.
Dr Boey Hong Khim did the first embolisation for massive gastrointestinal bleeding in 1976, and later for hepatoma. Embolisation is a procedure that purposely creates a blockage of specific blood vessels.
First Removal Of Gall Bladder Using An Endoscope
In 1990, the first percutaneous endoscopic cholecystectomy in Asia, was performed at SGH.
First Virtual Reality Brain Surgery
In 1993, SGH was the first hospital in Asia to use virtual reality surgery to successfully remove brain tumours and arteriovenous malformations. Using a mirror-based system, the surgeon wears stereoscopic glasses and enjoys precise hand-eye coordination by ‘reaching in’ into a 3D virtual image behind the mirror, with both hands.
First Liver Transplant
The first liver transplant was carried out on Surinder Kaur on 29 Sep 1990 by a team of doctors from NUH. The 25-year-old production worker had been diagnosed with auto-immune liver disease and given only 6 months to live, before the 5-hr operation led by Dr Susan Lim, the second female doctor in the world to perform a liver transplant. The donor was Goh Boon Chai who had died the day before.
First Kidney Transplant
The first kidney transplant was carried out on 8 Jul 1970 at SGH by surgeon Dr KT Chan on Doreen Tan, who was given the kidney belonging to a 20-year-old deceased national service man. The first living donor kidney transplant was done in 1976.
First Lung Transplant
The first lung transplant was carried out on Thanvanthri Nadesan Veerappan in Nov 2000 at the National Heart Centre. The 54-year-old recipient had been suffering from pulmonary fibrosis and given only weeks to live without a transplant, before the 9-hr operation performed by Drs S Sivathasan, Tong Ming Chuan and T Agasthian. The donor was Madam Yap Chee Kian, who had died from brain haemorrhage.
First Robot-Assisted Lung Surgery
Two lobectomies using robot-assisted technology to help surgeons remove tumours more accurately were carried out in the National Heart Centre in 2010. The procedure was the first performed in South-East Asia.
Introduction Of The Woffles Lift
Dr Woffles Wu pioneered the Woffles Lift, a non-surgical face-lift that leaves no scars. Started in 2004, the patented innovation utilises long lines of self retaining, barbed threads used as a sling to suspend sagging facial tissues to the firm and immovable tissues of the scalp. The lines are inserted via a long needle passed from the face to the scalp and no skin excision is required. Wu is the only Asian to be featured in the book, Aesthetic Surgery (2005) which features the world’s top cosmetic surgeons.
First Living-Related Liver Transplant
Two lobectomies using robot-assisted technology to help surgeons remove tumours more accurately were carried out in the National Heart Centre in 2010. The procedure was the first performed in South-East Asia.
First Paediatric Liver Transplant
In 1995, 11-year-old raziah Begum Alamgir received a new liver when Prof K Prabhakaran conducted Singapore’s first successful child liver transplant operation. In 2010, he led the NUH team that successfully performed the first combined liver and kidney transplant in a paediatric patient which was a first in South East Asia.
First Organ Transplant From An Emotionally-Related Donor
Andrea De Cruz’s life-saving liver transplant operation in May 2002 was the first time that the Ministry of Health allowed non-related living donors to donate. Fellow actor Pierre Png, who was then her boyfriend, donated a part of his liver to her. The couple tied the know a year after the transplant.
First Use of Maggots For Wound Healing
In Oct 2007, researchers from NTU and home-grown life sciences company, Origin Scientia, came up with a new method of healing festering wounds of diabetics or burns victims using maggots raised in the laboratory. Newly-hatched-bacteria-free maggots were placed in a gauze and onto a wound. Another piece of dressing was used to frame around the wound to prevent the maggots from escaping. The maggots eat the dead tissue on the wound and at the same time remove diseased flesh, leaving the healthy tissue untouched. They also secrete germ-killing anti-microbials in the process, preventing infection.
First Half-body Amputation
Amri Mohd Samat, 41, was amputated from the waist down in a 15-hr operation in May 2007 at the TTSH. Paralysed from the waist after a motorcycle accident when he was 20, he developed pressure sores at this buttocks and thighs that required the amputation. He passed away in 2011.
First Paediatric Liver Transplant
In 2009, Tan Mei fong came out of cancer surgery with destroyed lymph nodes, causing her to suffer ballooned legs due to water retention. 9 months later, she became the first person to undergo a lymph node transfer operation at NUH.
First Transurethral Resection of the Prostate Gland
Dr Wong Nan Eong performed the first transurethral resection of the prostate gland at the Toa Payoh Hospital in 1970. A cystoscope is inserted into the urethra via the penis and up into the bladder. The portion of the prostate that has become enlarged is removed.