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Woman whose maid suffered brain aneurysm raises S$70,000 from online donations in 2 days for medical bills, repatriation

SINGAPORE — Foreign domestic worker Saripah Fitriyani had been working in Ms Arinah Sallehuddin's household for about three months when she complained of a headache on the evening of March 5. 

Foreign domestic worker Saripah Fitriyani in hospital after undergoing surgery for a brain aneurysm.

Foreign domestic worker Saripah Fitriyani in hospital after undergoing surgery for a brain aneurysm.

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  • Foreign domestic worker Saripah Fitriyani suffered a sudden brain aneurysm on March 5 
  • She has been hospitalised since, and has racked up medical bills of up to S$70,000 so far, which have to be paid by her employer
  • The employer expects the medical bills and repatriation costs to go up to S$150,000
  • The employer has started an online fundraiser with the help of the maid agency, which has received about S$70,000 in just two days

SINGAPORE — Foreign domestic worker Saripah Fitriyani had been working in Ms Nadiah Arinah Mohd Sallehuddin's household for about three months when she complained of a headache on the evening of March 5. 

Up to that point, 29-year-old Ms Saripah had been cheerful, exceptionally helpful when it came to household chores, and appeared to be perfectly healthy, said Ms Arinah. 

On that evening, Ms Arinah and her mother told Ms Saripah to just rest for the night and sleep off the headache, as it was close to bedtime. 

However, half an hour later, Ms Saripah was found lying on the kitchen floor. Attempts to wake her failed, so Ms Arinah immediately called an ambulance. 

"The hospital did a CT (computerised tomography) scan, and found that she was bleeding in her brain," said Ms Arinah, 28, a content moderator at TikTok. 

It was the start of an ordeal that would nearly cost Ms Saripah her life, and set Ms Arinah back tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills. 

The diagnosis was that Ms Saripah had suffered a brain aneurysm, and so had to immediately undergo life saving surgery that night.

A brain aneurysm typically involves a ballooning or bulging in the wall of an artery in the brain. It can be fatal or cause lasting brain damage.

Doctors found that the right side of Ms Saripah's brain had "shifted" from where it was supposed to be. They are still investigating the cause of her condition. 

Ms Saripah woke up four days after the surgery, and had to be put on a ventilator and fed through a tube.

It was only over two weeks later on Monday (March 27) that she had been taken off the ventilator, and on Tuesday, that she was finally able to eat solid foods, said Ms Arinah. 

Ms Saripah has also been unable to properly form sentences or recognise people, and the left side of her body is unable to move due to the damage to the right side of her brain. 

"She is going to have to go through a long rehabilitation (process)," said Ms Arinah.

She is going to have to go through a long rehabilitation.
The maid's employer Nadiah Arinah Mohd Sallehuddin


While Ms Arinah's first thoughts were on the welfare of her helper, her mind soon turned to the medical bills that she would have to foot. 

Ms Saripah's interim hospital bill as of Thursday, which TODAY saw, showed that the hospital expenses incurred so far are S$70,152.

According to Ms Arinah, the total sum is likely to rise to above S$100,000 as Ms Saripah is still hospitalised. 

Ms Arinah and her husband, who is 32 and works as a marine assistant with port operator PSA Singapore, had just welcomed their third child in February, so the additional bill has come as an unexpected financial burden. 

According to the Ministry of Manpower website, employers of migrant domestic workers directly benefit from hiring them, so must bear all the costs of maintaining their helpers, which includes any medical costs necessary for their health.

Employers are also not allowed to make their helpers pay for their medical expenses, including medical expenses over and above the amount that insurance covers.

Although Ms Saripah's maid agency, Beyond Bibik, had mandatory health insurance for all their helpers, the insurance is capped at S$15,000 for medical fees and S$10,000 for repatriation costs, said Ms Arinah. 

Ms Arinah said that she had planned to repatriate Ms Saripah to Indonesia within the next few weeks so that she can receive medical care close to her husband and two young children.

"I'm sure her kids miss her very much, so I want her to go back there, so they can be with her," said Ms Arinah. 

She had discussed the repatriation arrangement with the Indonesian embassy, who told her that the final cost for repatriating Ms Saripah in her condition would be about S$18,000.  

All in all, she expects the total medical bill and repatriation cost to be about S$150,000. 


Ms Arinah said that Beyond Bibik, while not liable to foot the medical expenses in addition to what the insurance covered, was helpful over the family's situation. 

For one thing, Ms Arinah said the agency flew her helper's husband from Indonesia in the first week that she was hospitalised to visit her.

Though she did not meet Ms Saripah's husband, Ms Arinah said that she has been told that he had accepted the wife's condition and was thankful for the help from the agency and Ms Arinah. 

"Since all of this happened, the agency will always ask us how we are doing, and a fundraiser page was set up by the agency," Ms Arinah said. 

The fundraiser page, which is on the Go Get Funding website, was set up earlier in the week with the goal of raising S$150,000 for Ms Saripah's medical and repatriation bills. 

Within just two days, Ms Arinah had managed to raise about S$70,000, both through the fundraising page and through direct bank transfers to her.

About 1,000 people have made donations, with S$1,000 the largest individual donation she had seen. 

"It was such a good response. Going into this I didn't think that we would raise S$70,000 this fast," said Ms Arinah.

"I was thinking that if we get S$20,000 in two days, I would be thankful." 

Ms Arinah added that should the funds raised exceed the total medical and repatiation costs, they will send the difference over to Ms Saripah's family in Indonesia so they can continue caring for her. 

In response to TODAY's queries, a Beyond Bibik spokesperson said the firm would be providing financial assistance to support Ms Saripah's family while she is recovering after her return to Indonesia.

The firm had helped to arrange an urgent passport for her husband to visit Singapore, and had covered the man's return flight, his hotel and expenses while he was here, the spokesperson added.

Related topics

domestic worker health insurance medical bill

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