Elena Teh Li Hui, 7-years-old
“It is okay to fall and it is definitely okay to cry but we must always pick ourselves back up again so that our children can see that light at the end of the tunnel.”


I moved here from Sabah to further my studies. I have been in KL for 10 years now and I am a piano teacher. My daughter Elena will turn 7-years-old this October.

When my daughter Elena was born, the doctors told me she only had half a heart. In medical terms it’s called tricuspid atresia. She was missing the right side of her heart along with the valve which meant that there’d be a lack of oxygen because her heart won’t be able to turn blue blood to red blood cells. It’s the red blood cells that carry oxygenated blood.

She was only three-days-old when she had her first surgery. I remember the doctor telling us that it was going to be a four- part surgery and I remember feeling so scared and nervous about what was going to happen. It was such a stressful time because all of this just felt so foreign and new to me.


She had her second surgery at six months old and even then, I was nervous and worried. I mean, we’re talking about her chance for survival. Everytime she went into that surgery room, it was a question of whether or not she was going to survive. The third surgery happened when she turned a year and a half. By then, Elena had developed some awareness of her surroundings, and developed some sort of phobia of needles and doctors. Last year was her final surgery, and to even go through this surgery, we had to run some tests to see if she was even suitable for it. I was so scared. If she didn’t have this surgery, it meant she wouldn’t live a long life. She was six-years-old when we finally had the last leg of the surgery and because she was much older, we managed to prepare her for it and explain everything to her. She was braver and handled it much better, of course.

While it was a difficult time watching Elena go in and out of surgery, I’ve learnt how to better prepare myself mentally throughout the years. Emotionally? I’m still learning. Sometimes you can’t help but think what if something were to happen? Even 72-hours post-surgery, I’d think if there’s something that may go wrong. There were many sleepless nights but Elena? She’s a strong girl! Of course, things can be quite scary for her but she always chooses to see the positivity in all of it. She goes ‘Oh, tidak apa la!’


When she has all these tubes coming out her, she’ll observe them and look out for alphabets. She still finds something to look forward to even if it’s something as simple as noticing a letter E or L formed out of her tubes.

Elena’s strength has kept me strong. Throughout the years of my life with Elena, I’ve learnt that it is okay to fall and it is definitely okay to cry but we must always pick ourselves back up again so that our children can see that light at the end of the tunnel. Life is short. Just go on and do it. Just do it. And do it positively.

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