Never Too Old: Retirement would be ‘boring’, says 93-year-old cardiologist still working

The older Dr Toh’s methodical nature also underpins his attraction to cardiology, a branch of internal medicine. The study of the heart is “almost mathematical”, he stated in his book.  

While pursuing his postgraduate studies in the UK during the late 1950s, the young doctor chose to specialise in cardiology because it is based on “very exact parameters, with logical conclusions based on a fixed set of clinical assessment tests and investigations”. 

Cardiology requires “you listen to the heartbeat and check the pulse”, he told CNA. “You calculate this, you calculate that, you do the ECGs (electrocardiogram) and so forth.”


After moving to Singapore in 1960, Dr Toh worked as a junior consultant at the Singapore General Hospital’s (SGH) Department of Clinical Medicine. In his time at SGH, he was involved in developing its Department of Cardiology. 

At the same time, Dr Toh was a lecturer; SGH was the main teaching hospital in the country then. In class, the cardiologist had a reputation for being fierce and wouldn’t hesitate to tell off students if they examined the patient wrongly. 

One of his students, Dr Lee Wei Ling, the daughter of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, “refused to be in my ward”, he recalled laughing. “Then her father asked why. She told her father, ‘I’m too scared of him.’”

There was no shortage of prominent figures in Dr Toh’s storied career, according to his biography, including some who were his patients. In 1968, for example, he was called to help care for Singapore’s first President, the late Yusof Ishak, who had been hospitalised for an irregular heartbeat. 

And in his office today – alongside medical journals and magazines, Southeast Asian art and photos of his grandchildren – stand a couple of photos with his late friend and former President S R Nathan, whom Dr Toh remembers as a “very nice” man.

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