Sunday, February 14, 2010

Extraordinary Doctors: Johor Bahru: Dr Alice & Jimmy Low

Extraordinary Doctors: Johor Bahru: Dr Alice & Jimmy Low

by Dr Wong Yin Onn, JB 

Drs Jimmy and Alice Low were the first batch graduates from the (Queen Mary Hospital) Hong Kong University after the second world war.

Dr Alice (now a sprightly 84 years) in particular has a most interesting life; her parents were university graduates(!) at a time when education was a premium and her parents came to then rural Malaya from China to help set up Chinese schools. The Foon Yew school here in Johor Bahru is one such effort, and she was born in the Philippines when her parents were posted there to start a Chinese school.

They were then posted to South Africa where they brought Alice along and where she studied up till secondary school. Her 2 very young sisters were left in Ipoh with relatives as it was considered too dangerous to go to Africa. The WW2 separated them without any form of communication. After the war, the parents returned to Malaya to continue teaching. Foon Yew students post war will remember them.

Alice went to HKU to study medicine and DR Jimmy fr Penang was her classmate.

They graduated and got married, settling down to JB after postings in Hospital Johor Bahru (now Hospital Sultan Aminah, HSA), and for Dr Jimmy as MOIC in Kota Tinggi hospital, then a communist-infested area and he being the ONLY doctor in the whole district. Incidentally, Dr Han Suyin (famous Chinese-born physician, who wrote a prize-winning novel about Malaya, then, "And the Rain My Drink", and "A Many Splendoured Thing") was their Pathology tutor in Hong Kong University, and the Master of the Ladies' Hall, and in JB she was also MO at HSA and Dr Alice was in her footsteps, literally.

The husband and wife doctors' team set up their own clinic in JB where there were then only 6 GPs! A lifetime of service to the community followed, and Dr Jimmy was a well-known local judo sinseh (Master). They were almost always attending at all the CME meetings, until poor health led to retirement. (This went on for decades, and I could also remember them coming to one of my lectures in the late 1980s, then, when we had the opportunity to meet again... DQ)

Dr Jimmy had since passed on while Dr Alice lives alone in their rambling old bungalow now. Their patients like you Dr David were their children, for they have none themselves. A few doctors visit her regularly now to chat and and take her out for a meal. She in turn helps to take care of Dr Putli Martin, the most senior doctor in JB at 95 years, who is now bedridden. She organises the 2 full-time aides who nurse Dr Martin 24/7.

I am privileged to be involved in their medical care for many years and hence got to know them well.

This generation of doctors who were truly all rounders and pillars of society, is now a rare gem of a bygone era.

I will send your regards to Dr Alice when we next meet.

Dr Wong Yin Onn, is a senior General Practitioner and Professor of Family Practice, Monash Univerisity Medical School, Johor Bharu

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