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Thursday, 26 April 2018 00:00

Serve for As Long As She Could

Written by  Julie Yen Yu Chu, Malacca / Translated by Goh Hwe Yong

The happy smile of her patients is always the motivational force for Physician Thoo Lien Yin (right) to keep serving. [Photograph by Julie Yen Yu Chu]

While many people at the golden age of 70 years old would prefer to enjoy a carefree life, there are some who choose to continue giving their service wherever it is needed.


Traditional Chinese physician Thoo Lien Yin is 73 years old. Since 1992, she has been giving consultations at various free clinics organized by charity organizations in Malacca, and will only return to her own clinic to see her patients in the afternoon. Despite her advanced age, she has never thought about retiring.

In 2016, when she was invited to serve at the Tzu-Chi Free Clinic in Malacca for one to two days per week, she readily accepted the invitation. This means that on certain days, she has two sessions of consultations per day, on top of her private clinic in the afternoon. In March 2018, she gladly added another day of free consultation at the Tzu-Chi Free Clinic. Despite being so busy, she enjoys what she is doing because to her, “it is a better idea to be of service to others than to do nothing and idle away time”.

Spiritual joy beyond words

Physician Thoo is always seen walking hurriedly, but once inside the clinic, she would consult patients in a calm and patient manner. This wins her much respect from Tzu Chi volunteers and the patients. Ng Swee Wah, a Tzu Chi volunteer who serves as an assistant to Physician Thoo, commented that the latter always treat her patients like her own family members. To ensure proper diagnosis and treatment, she would enquire each patient about his/her lifestyle and dietary habits in great detail but in a most caring manner.

She is skilful whether in consultation or in administering acupuncture; and despite her age, she is agile in her actions. No wonder many of her patients obediently keep to their appointments to see her weekly.

By word of mouth, many learnt about her superb medical skills and caring attitude. With many patients to attend to over her limited consultation hours at the Free Clinic, many a time, her consultation hour has to be extended to past 1 pm, and she has to rush to her private clinic in time at 2 pm. This leaves her with no time for lunch, and at times, not even a sip of water. Yet, she never ends her consultation hastily. Instead, she feels all the more full of energy, because she is very pleased to see patients recovering. To her, such happiness is beyond words and cannot be bought with money.

Making full use of her expertise

Each morning, Physician Thoo would give a 2-hour free consultation at other charitable organizations. The rest of available time in the morning is either set for Tzu-Chi Free Clinic or doing gardening at home. Despite her love for gardening, she prefers to use her expertise in treating patients rather than spending time on her hobbies or other recreational activities.

She shared, “I had been sick a number of times and I understand how it is like to be sick. So I strongly feel I need to relieve the patients of their suffering.”

She recalled that due to poverty, she faced much challenges in getting education, before finally became a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner. This was possible through the help of many. She will not forget such kindness given to her, and would want to repay such kindness. She said, “As long as my service is needed, I will gladly give. I will carry on till the end of my life.”

Volunteer Tan Wee Chee first met Physician Thoo in 1999, when she went to her to ask for donation in a fundraising to help the 9/21 Earthquake victims of Taiwan. From then on, Physician Thoo became a monthly donor of Tzu Chi. At that time, Physician Thoo was already an experienced and well-known traditional Chinese medicine practitioner in Malacca. However, she never kept Wee Chee in wait when the latter visited her clinic to collect monthly donation from her.

In fact, Physician Thoo had for a short while served at the Tzu-Chi Free Clinic in Malacca in 2006. She stopped after a few months as she had already committed her services with other charitable organizations and thus could not serve at the Tzu-Chi Free Clinic regularly. In 2016, she returned to give her service again at Wee Chee’s invitation, and later, became a TIMA member. In the same year, she flew to the Philippines to join other TIMA members for Tzu Chi’s international medical services.

Treating patients like her family

“Free clinics as under Tzu Chi’s Medical Mission are very unique, for volunteers, patients and doctors interact with one another like a family. It feels warm. I prefer to think that I am here to learn from Tzu Chi’s holistic approach to health care, rather than to feel that I am giving my service.”

Physician Thoo frankly said that she is one who pays no attention to triviality, and is straight forward in words and deeds. As such, to serve at Tzu Chi is a good opportunity to polish her ways in dealing with others. Lau Tang Chiang, a Tzu Chi volunteer who happens to be a neighbour of Physician Thoo for over a decade, is happy to notice the positive changes in the latter. She remarked, “Physician Thoo is a much gentler person now.”

Normally, after free clinic session, Physician Thoo would stay for lunch with the volunteers. At times when she has to rush off, volunteers will pack lunch for her to take along. She is very happy that not only she gets to serve, but also to taste foods prepared by the volunteers.

The warmth that is always prevalent at the Tzu-Chi Free Clinic must have been one of the reasons that keeps Physician Thoo in such high spirits while rendering her service. As both Physician Thoo’s assistant and her patient, Ng Swee Wah has high praises, “Physician Thoo is such a caring doctor who treats her patients dearly like family members. She is not only good in her profession, but will also advise her patients so that they have a right attitude and views towards life.”

Physician Thoo has never forgotten her initial motive of practising medicine, that is, to relieve the sick of their suffering. Thus, she is more than happy to offer her service.

She said, “There is no need for huge wealth, for one cannot use much of it. But doing good deeds is different, as one will never lose anything but has all to gain.”

It has been over 40 years since Physician Thoo first practised traditional Chinese medicine. Rather than a hindrance, her age becomes a driving force for her to seize the opportunity and time to give. She does not intend to retire, but vows to serve the sick until the end of life.

 

 

Physician Thoo Lien Yin would go through the patients’ medical records as soon as she enters her clinic. Volunteer Ng Swee Wah is her assistant at the Free Clinic. [Photograph by Julie Yen Yu Chu]   Physician Thoo Lien Yin is agile despite being in her 70s. She is seen here getting into a low position to administer acupuncture needles on a patient’s leg. [Photograph by Julie Yen Yu Chu]

Physician Thoo Lien Yin would go through the patients’ medical records as soon as she enters her clinic. Volunteer Ng Swee Wah is her assistant at the Free Clinic. [Photograph by Julie Yen Yu Chu]
 
Physician Thoo Lien Yin is agile despite being in her 70s. She is seen here getting into a low position to administer acupuncture needles on a patient’s leg. [Photograph by Julie Yen Yu Chu]
 
Physician Thoo Lien Yin began to serve at various free clinics since she was young, and after over 40 years, she still maintains her initial aspiration because of love. [Photograph by Julie Yen Yu Chu]   Volunteer Tan Wee Chee (1st right) came to know of Physician Thoo Lien Yin in a fundraising drive. That had indirectly led Physician Thoo to serve at Tzu-Chi Free Clinic. [Photograph by Julie Yen Yu Chu]

Physician Thoo Lien Yin began to serve at various free clinics since she was young, and after over 40 years, she still maintains her initial aspiration because of love. [Photograph by Julie Yen Yu Chu]
 
 
Volunteer Tan Wee Chee (1st right) came to know of Physician Thoo Lien Yin in a fundraising drive. That had indirectly led Physician Thoo to serve at Tzu-Chi Free Clinic. [Photograph by Julie Yen Yu Chu]
 
Delightful lunch chats would take place after each busy session of free clinic. Physician Thoo Lien Yin (1st right) enjoys it very much. [Photograph by Julie Yen Yu Chu]

Delightful lunch chats would take place after each busy session of free clinic. Physician Thoo Lien Yin (1st right) enjoys it very much. [Photograph by Julie Yen Yu Chu]