Brave Malaysian amputee finds beauty in a life without limbs

A Malaysian beautician living in Singapore, who had all four limbs amputated after contracting a serious infection, has bravely decided to live resiliently with her family’s support.

Lin Ailing, 37, went to Singapore in 2016 to work as a beauty therapist, a job she thoroughly enjoyed and which afforded her the opportunity to indulge her love for travel.

She frequently took photos and documented her life on social media platforms, according to Singaporean media outlet Shin Min Daily News.

Last October, Lin developed a fever and abdominal pain. When her symptoms did not improve after a visit to the doctor, she sought a second consultation two days later.

“I initially thought it was food poisoning and was prescribed some medication. During the second visit, the doctor noticed something was wrong and sent me to the accident and emergency, where I lost consciousness,” she said.

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Lin’s mother helps her fit her prosthetic legs. Family and friends gave her the strength to carry on. Photo: Lin Ailing

When she woke up in hospital, doctors told her she had a bacterial infection and that her condition was critical.

Because her heart was not functioning well, doctors suggested injections to promote blood flow and ensure normal brain function. But the side-effects meant other parts of her were affected.

“Gradually, I watched my hands and legs turn black, become heavy, and uncontrollable,” Lin said.

“The doctors said the cells in my limbs were necrotic due to sepsis caused by the bacterial infection. To save my life, they had to amputate my limbs.”

Doctors said amputation due to bacterial infection is rare, but without it, Lin would have faced certain death. So, in November and December last year, her hands and legs were operated on and removed.

Lin said she spent all her savings of about S$300,000 (US$222,000), on treatment. Losing her limbs meant she could no longer work as a beautician, so she had no source of income.

In January, after being discharged from the hospital, she could only afford prosthetic legs but not prosthetic hands because of the cost.

Losing her limbs initially plunged her into depression, but the support from her family, friends and former employer gave her the courage to live.

During her hospital stay, the beauty salon where she used to work paid part of her medical bills.

Lin is now staying with her sister and her mother has moved in to care for her too.

“It was hard to accept losing my limbs at first, and I did not want to see friends. But their support helped me get through it. For their sake, I have to be strong,” she said.

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Lin was enjoying life as a beauty therapist before being struck down by the infection. Photo: Lin Ailing

Lin also wants to work again and to encourage and inspire other amputees.

“I hope to find a job I can manage in Singapore. I also want to help others who have gone through similar experiences,” she said.

Her bravery has evoked emotion from many people on social media.

“Do not give up, and keep on moving. There is always a purpose in our life,” one online observer said on Instagram.

“Thank you for sharing your story, it has inspired many people who feel hopeless about life,” another said.

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