Former Hai Sing Catholic School student Choo Yi Yang, who had a brain haemorrhage while preparing for the O-levels, seen here with his form teachers Mr Mukmien Bin Mohammad Kassim and Ms Ho Hui Ying.

Choo Yi Yang had his sights on doing a diploma in animation in poly. However, his dream hit a snag when he suffered a brain haemorrhage in June last year.

The former Hai Sing Catholic School student told CatholicNews he was busy preparing for his O-levels when it occurred.

He had taken MC for the day as he felt unwell. “It started with a really painful headache. After that everything was a blur,” recalled Yi Yang. “I remember seeing my parents and telling them I loved them.”

His mother, Mrs Choo Huay Lang, shared that the haemorrhage was caused by arteriovenous malformation (AVM) – a congenital condition that indicates that the arteries and veins in the brain are not properly formed, which can lead to clots and burst vessels.

“He [Yi Yang] complained of headaches in the past but none was as bad as that day,” said Mrs Choo, 53. He was admitted to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) and later the National Neuroscience Institute (NNI) where he underwent brain surgery.

When his form teachers, Mr Mukmien Bin Mohammad Kassim and Ms Ho Hui Ying, heard what had happened, they informed Yi Yang’s classmates of what had happened. “You could sense the sadness in class when they came to school the next day,” said Mr Mukmien, who added that his class was “close-knit and jovial”.

Yi Yang (carrying balloon) with his classmates when they paid him a visit at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital during his recovery from brain surgery.

In all, Yi Yang missed about five weeks of school to recover from surgery.

To show their support, Hai Sing Catholic School arranged a bus for Yi Yang’s classmates to visit him in KKH.

There, they presented him with encouraging messages and prayed for him. “Seeing them all around me, smiling and cheering me up gave me the boost I needed,” shared Yi Yang. He returned to school in August.

According to Mrs Choo, former Hai Sing Catholic School principal Judina Cheong played a significant role in assisting Yi Yang academically after his operation. “She advised us on the different options that Yi Yang could take and assured us of the school’s support in helping him reach his goal,” said Mrs Choo.

One step the school made was to move Yi Yang’s class from the fourth storey to the first as he tired easily from climbing the stairs.

On his part, Yi Yang made the decision to drop Biology as he felt he needed time to focus on other subjects.

Ms Ho, who taught Yi Yang Additional Mathematics, recalled his determination. “There were days when you could see he was really tired but he never took a day of MC. He was really determined to make up for lost time,” she said.

The incident made Yi Yang all the more determined to pick up from where he left off after the surgery. He attended an interview with Nanyang Polytechnic after his surgery under the Early Admissions Exercise (EAE) and was told he would secure himself a spot in their animation diploma course if he had an aggregate of 26 points or less.

“I was initially worried if I could actually do it. I felt weak and had missed so many weeks of school,” Yi Yang said.

So he was “ecstatic” when he found out he scored A1s for English, Humanities, Combined Sciences and Pure Geography; A2 for Additional Mathematics; and a B3 for Elementary Mathematics.

His advice to those who may be going through a similar situation: “Listen to your body and know your limits. Yet at the same time, don’t be afraid to reach for your goals. Most importantly, amid the busyness of life, do your best to enjoy the simple things.” 

By Jared Ng
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