From its humble beginnings as a small general hospital in 1858 to a 30-bed maternity hospital in 1924, KKH has grown into an 830-bed hospital providing obstetric and gynaecology, neonatology and paediatric services.
The origins of KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital can be traced to the general hospital that opened around 1860 in the Kandang Kerbau district. Located at the junction of Bukit Timah and Serangoon roads, this general hospital was the fifth to be constructed in Singapore since Raffles landed in 1819.
The hospital’s name comes from the Malay term for “buffalo shed” (kandang = shed / pen + kerbau = buffalo), reflecting a buffalo pen or buffalo shed owned by the colonial government’s Department of Transport was believed to have been located there. The Hokkiens and Teochews referred to the hospital as Tek kah (zhu jiao in Mandarin), or Hokkien for “foot of the small bamboos”, as bamboo plants used to grow on the hillocks below which the hospital was located.
In 1865, the hospital started admitting women for childbirth and other gynaecological conditions. In 1872, the women’s ward became known as the Lock Hospital and was equipped with 20 beds. While the hospital started as one catering to health care for women, mainly for gynaecology and obstetrics, it has since expanded its role.
The hospital closed for renovations in December 1923 and opened as the Free Maternity Hospital on 1 October 1924 for the poor who could not afford medical fees. The hospital, which had 30 beds and 12 children’s cots, was headed by Dr J. S. (Joseph Sandys) English, a professor of midwifery and gynaecology.
During World War II, KKH became an emergency general hospital for the population when Japan attacked Singapore. During the Japanese occupation of Singapore, the hospital was called Chuo Byoin or Central Hospital. In 1966, the hospital entered the Guinness Book of Records for delivering the highest number of newborns within a single maternity facility for that year- 39,835 births, and it continued to hold on to this record for a full decade
The first test-tube baby was born on 19 May 1983 at KKH. The 2.5-kg boy, Samuel Lee Jian Wei, son of Mr and Mrs Lee Chye Huat, was also Asia’s first successful in-vitro fertilisation baby. This was just 5 years after the world’s first test-tube baby was delivered in England.
In March 1997, KK Hospital moved to 100 Bukit Timah Road, renamed KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital. The new facility is equipped with more than 800 beds, a pediatric emergency department and a 24-hour women’s clinic.
According to eresources.nlb.gov.sg, Wikipedia and singaporerecords.com