I was only in my thirties when I was diagnosed with end stage renal failure. It was not easy to accept since I was young and at the peak of my career. My husband offered to donate his kidney to me then, but I refused. I could not bear to risk both our lives for a major operation given that our two daughters were still young.
I went on dialysis for 10 years and it was tough on my family. Throughout these years, they took turns to fetch me to and fro the dialysis centre. My daughters could not go out with their friends after school and there were times when my husband had to take urgent leave from work, just to take care of me. I was always feeling tired and I had to excuse myself from family gatherings even on special occasions like Hari Raya.
The decision for transplant came about when my husband offered to donate again. I did not want my family’s lifestyle to be restrained because of me . For them to have a better life, I accepted my husband’s offer.
After transplant, my husband and I recovered fast and well. My legs are no longer weak and I could attend family gatherings. We even took a family trip to Korea. I could not be more thankful to my family’s support, and especially to my husband, who has given me this new life.
I did not have a heartbeat on my own. I had to rely on a mechanical pump that runs on batteries to keep me alive. The diagnosis was not entirely unexpected for me as my mum had the same condition. However, I did not expect the disease to manifest so severely that when I was first diagnosed at the age of 30, I was left with just 12% of the normal heart function.
It was not easy having to adjust my lifestyle with the mechanical pump. The batteries weigh about 2kg and daily simple tasks, like showering became such a chore. I had to cover the batteries with cling wrap every time I shower. My diet was affected since I had to take blood thinners. I could not consume any soy-based products as it could thicken my blood and clot my pump.
I had mixed feelings when I was told that there was a heart available. I was excited because it’s rare to get a have a suitable heart but at the same time, I understood that someone had just passed on.
The new heart gave me a new purpose, a new home. No words can describe how grateful I am to my donor’s family, for giving me this new lease of life. I have always been part of the patient support group, even during the days before my heart transplant. With a new heart, I walk the wards and care for my fellow patients.
I will continue to leave the legacy of my heart donor and live my life to the fullest.
Choo Jia Hui
It was a great shock to both of us when we were told that he had end stage kidney disease. We were planning for our future together and building up our career when we were slapped with this diagnosis.
With news of his disease, his company decided to “let him go” despite him serving his bond. Desperate to make ends meet, he took up another job with poor incentives so that we could save money for our wedding and BTO. It was not easy juggling daily peritoneal dialysis (PD), work and his post-graduate studies.
Over time, the disease took a heavy toll on him. He changed from an optimistic, confident and ambitious person into a pessimistic person. He retracted into a shell and I wasn’t sure what was going through his mind. The man I married and knew so well was slowly turning into a complete stranger.
I frequently spoke about donating one kidney to him, but he always dismissed it. He told me that he did not want others to suffer with him, much less to take the risks of surgery for him. After much persuasion, he finally accepted my offer. I guess he finally saw that his health, his freedom and his confidence means so much more to me than the risks of surgery.
After transplant, my husband returned to his usual jovial self. It was a challenge that we both endured and I am glad that we made it through together. I never regretted my decision.
It started off with my friend pointing out that the whites of my eyes were slightly yellow. Then, I felt tired easily and my stomach cramps were getting more severe. At just 13 years old, I cannot understand what was happening to my body. I just followed the doctors’ instructions, going for many scans and taking medications daily.
It was very challenging physically and emotionally. I had to prioritise my health over my studies. It was hard to concentrate in school and I could not go out with my friends.
No one could understand what I was going through, except my mother. My mother is my hero. She is always there for me. Her presence alone was enough to encourage me to press on. What’s more amazing is, without hesitation, she went on with the medical evaluation to donate part of her liver to me.
With every rain, there comes a rainbow. Through my liver disease, we became closer and words cannot describe how grateful I am to her. Without her, I would not be here today.
With the support from Make-A-Wish Singapore, I documented my experience in a book, titled “How To Be A Good Patient”. Through the book, I hope people can understand how chronic illnesses affect both the young and the old.
At an age of 35, one would never expect a sudden twist in life. It started off with a bad cough that lasted for months. It never improved and I was subsequently diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Over the years, my condition deteriorated progressively. At 46 years old, my heart could no longer function properly and I had to be implanted with a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) - a mechanical pump that pumped blood on behalf of my heart. However, the road did not get any easier. It was a constant nightmare for my family and I - attending to my daily needs and my ever-changing medical conditions.
Waiting for a heart from a deceased donor was not easy. Heart donors are rare, and there are many heart failure patients in similarly dire situations waiting for the call to receive a new transplant.
The moment I was told to be on standby for a heart transplant felt magical. My family celebrated my chance to receive a new heart. Yet I was conflicted because I know that it was someone's death who gave me this new life. I cannot imagine what the donor's family went through.
No words can express my heartfelt gratitude to my donor and her family for saving me and giving me a second chance in life again. I believe that the patients who had received a transplant live not only for themselves, but for their donors too.
I send prayers of thanks and blessings every day for my organ donor and her family. With this new lease of life, I can now spend many more years with my loved ones.
I was very puzzled because I had liver failure even though I had never smoked or drank alcohol. One day, I suddenly vomited blood at home and was rushed to the hospital where I was diagnosed with Wilson's disease. The disease resulted in the build-up of copper in my liver, damaging it.
For seven years, the disease progressed. Emotionally, it felt like a ticking time bomb. I was told to limit myself to 500ml of water daily. However, it was impossible as I had to carry heavy loads and had to work outdoors. As a result, my legs became swollen and I could not work for long.
In 2010, I was diagnosed with end stage liver failure. The past few years have been disruptive for myself and my family. I could not secure a part-time job in view of my frequent hospitals visits. Whenever I was hospitalised, I felt like a different person, scolding my doctors as I was in a confused state due to my condition.
After waiting for three years, a liver was finally available for me. However, I was told that it was not a simple surgery. As my liver was damaged, it could not produce enough platelets. A small cut could potentially cause me to bleed profusely. I thus required blood transfusions to stabilise my condition for the transplant surgery.
Post-transplant, I am now able to resume work at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. The donated organ has allowed me to secure a full time job, to support my family and to be able to spend more time with them. I would like to thank my organ donor and her family. You gave me the chance to live again, I will always treasure it.
Growing up, I had many questions about the liver transplant I received. I would look at the scar in my belly and wonder why my other peers do not have such scars. The scars made me feel different, even though I did not look dissimilar from the others. The liver transplant I received when I was less than a year old saved my life, but it took some time for me to understand why I was different, and why I had to take medications on a daily basis.
I eventually came to realise that this was a blessing in disguise. With the new lease of life, I now value living life to the fullest. To me, it does not mean going for wild adventures overseas or having crazy parties through the night. The parties I have are with the children at the charity I volunteer regularly at. I organise camps to help these children discover their potential, while supporting their emotional and social development.
I find it especially meaningful to be able to walk with children and youths who also face chronic diseases. My experience enables me to relate with them and to understand the struggles that they go through.
Although it has been many years since the transplant, I remain forever grateful to my mother who had donated part of her liver to save me. Though I did not understand her sacrifice while I was growing up, I am now filled with gratefulness to her. Without my mum and her donation, there will not be a Justin today. I will live my life purposefully, for my mum.
Kumaran S/O Sesshe
Due to work commitments, my father had to work late and often neglected his health. He was first diagnosed with liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer) in 2013, which worsened in 2015. Without a liver transplant, it was likely that the cancer would spread.
I was keen to donate my liver to help my father, but I had many friends urging me not to do so. I get their point. I was subjecting myself to risks of surgery to help my father. I was not sick, and I did not need that surgery to live. Moreover, my wife just delivered a new addition to my family. Going for the surgery meant that I will be putting my entire family at risk. My dad's life, however, depended on that surgery.
I had thus decided that I should proceed to be an organ donor and went for all the evaluations and preparations for the transplant. Although I had told her about going ahead with the transplant, it was not discussed in great detail at home. At the social worker's meeting, it became clear to my wife that the transplant was really going ahead. It was then that I realised that I should have involved my wife much earlier. It was only fair to my wife that we talk about organ donation as a family.
It has been two years since the transplant. I can sleep soundly at night, knowing that I am a life-saving hero, and I can be a role model to my children on precious values of sacrifice and love.
Read more about Singapore Kindness Movement's coverage on Kumaran here: https://pride.kindness.sg/would-you-sacrifice-an-organ-for-a-loved-one-they-did-with-no-regrets/
Diagnosed with advanced chronic kidney disease (stage 5) in early 2015, my wife's kidneys eventually failed her. It was an arduous journey from then on. I witnessed how my wife would feel weak after each dialysis session. As a husband, I had a duty to care for and to protect my wife. Transplant was one of the first things on my mind, but I quickly ruled it out as my blood group was incompatible to that of my wife. Several options crossed my mind. I was at my wits end, urgently seeking for possible donors.
After chasing down many dead ends, I thought to myself, "why can't I be the donor?" This decision was not an easy one as I did not want to subject my wife to a higher risk transplant in which her immune system might reject my kidney. With faith, and support from the Pastor, community cell leaders and members, and the assurance from the medical team, I was able to be brave and step forth to be the kidney donor so that my wife could be free from dialysis. The transplant was carried out successfully in July 2015.
It has been one and a half year since the transplant, both my wife and I are doing well. Three months post-transplant, I was able to return back to my usual lifestyle and fitness level. It has been a difficult journey, but it is one definitely worth taking the risk for.
To my doctors and my coordinator, a big thank you for all the support and assurance given to me and my wife.
Read more about Singapore Kindness Movement's coverage on Alex here: https://pride.kindness.sg/would-you-sacrifice-an-organ-for-a-loved-one-they-did-with-no-regrets/
Nadiah Binti Hashim
I was born with biliary atresia, a rare disease of the liver and bile ducts which causes the bile to be trapped inside the liver. When I was three months old, I went for the Kasai procedure to correct this condition. However, the procedure was only a temporary solution. I was subsequently diagnosed with liver cirrhosis in 2009. My condition further deteriorated in 2014 and the doctors told me that I had to get a liver transplant within six months. My family underwent donor evaluation tests, but they were evaluated to be unsuitable donors. There was not much time left, and I was losing hope.
In addition to the mental stress, my legs were also swollen and I walked around with an unsteady gait. Stairs were one of my worst enemies as each step would cause tremendous pain. I would choose to take a flatter but longer path to reduce the pain. The physical discomfort added a negative tint in my outlook on life. Thankfully, I had support from my family members, who constantly encouraged me each step along the way.
I received a liver from a deceased donor, and walked out of the hospital a different person. I am now expecting a new addition to my happy family. The selfless gift of a new liver has not only improved my physical health, it has also changed the way I perceive the world. Today, I actively help those in need to contribute back to the community.
To my unsung hero, thank you for your gift of life.
I was 16 when my heart was attacked by a virus and I was diagnosed with heart failure. Before being diagnosed, I didn't suspect that anything was seriously wrong because I was asthmatic and I thought these symptoms were part of my asthma. I was also young, so it didn't occur to me that anything could be seriously wrong with my health. What was unusual was that I was often short of breath and coughed a lot. And as a result, I couldn't sleep at night.
I was placed on heart failure medication as soon as I was diagnosed and had to make weekly visits to the doctors. Instead of spending time with my friends doing the things I loved, like soccer and basketball, I kept company with doctors. On top of that, I had to be hospitalised frequently. Instead of improving, my heart continued to deteriorate. When I was 18, the doctors told me I needed a heart transplant. It was my only chance to live. My family was very supportive; my parents were willing to do anything to save their son. I relied on their support, but I was still anxious and frustrated. I was worried that I would lose my girlfriend. I was scared that I would not wake up from the operation.
Fortunately, the transplant went smoothly and I slowly regained my health. With this new lease of life, I found a job, and even proposed to my girlfriend. Today, I have everything to live for. My family. My wife. And my baby boy. I'm a new man with the gift of new life. And it feels wonderful. I didn't know much about organ donation before; I was young and unaware. But today, my family and I are all for it. I'm grateful to receive the chance to live on and I think others should receive this chance too.
Mohd Selamat Bin Mohd
Playing street soccer with my son was the highlight of my life until my heart attack in 1999. I used to be healthy and fit but after my heart attack, I got breathless easily. I also had trouble sleeping at night. My doctors told me I needed a heart transplant as my heart was swollen. I was shocked and scared. It was major surgery. I've heard of kidney transplants, but the idea of a heart transplant was less well known. Furthermore, there was a religious aspect to this decision. I did not agree to the transplant immediately. But after speaking with counsellors and going for several counselling sessions, I changed my mind. I decided I would go for the transplant. It was my only chance at survival.
Then the frustration of waiting began. My condition got worse and that affected my state of mind. I could not think straight. I didn't sleep well for months. I didn't follow my doctor's orders and went off my strict diet, which made my condition worse. I almost gave up during this period of waiting.
But after 2 years, I finally got my transplant. Today, I lead a normal life again. I treasure each day more now that I have the chance to spend more time with my family. I also help my wife at the mosque; I love spending time there as it gives me a sense of peace. After my experience, I believe in organ donation. There is a need to educate everyone, even children from a young age, about its benefits.
I'm 56 years old. I'm married with three children â€“ one son and two daughters. A workaholic, I took on two jobs working up to 20 hours a day when I was younger. One day, while I was at work as a contractor with PUB, my heart suddenly stopped. I was fortunate that I was revived, but I had to go for a heart bypass. Sadly, my condition did not improve after the bypass and my doctors told me my only option was a heart transplant. When my wife heard about this, she was worried and did not want me to undergo such major surgery. But my health continued to worsen quite rapidly. I had to stop work because I had to go for medical check-ups twice a week. After many discussions with my wife and family, I finally agreed to the transplant. My wife was my pillar of strength throughout this time and I wouldn't have agreed to go ahead without her support.
I waited for two and a half months before I got a transplant. With the transplant, I got my freedom back. I have always been an active person, and my body bounced back well enough that I soon began doing things. Progress was slow; I started out by helping with the household chores. Once I was stronger, I went out and started a steady job. Today, I work as a night security guard. I am sharing my story in the hope that it inspires other patients with heart disease, and more importantly, encourages more people to support organ donation.
I was fourteen when vision in my right eye became blurred. At first I thought it was short-sightedness. A visit to the optician for prescription glasses revealed that something was seriously wrong. I was immediately referred to an eye specialist. After several tests, the specialist told me that I was going blind and that a cornea transplant was my only chance. When I heard that, I was devastated. I was a teenager. I had this whole "I could be anything" outlook. I never thought that I could fall seriously sick, let alone lose my eyesight. I felt my life was snatched away suddenly.
As my vision got worse, it affected my studies. I missed lessons in order to make frequent visits to the doctor. School life grew frustrating, my performance suffered and I lost interest. Eventually, I failed my exams and dropped out of school. I was really angry and resentful then. Instead of being out there with my buddies playing soccer or swimming, I was losing my sight. I cut off contact with my friends and stayed at home alone. I questioned why life was being so unfair to me.
My mum, a single parent, didn't know how to cope with the situation either. She sacrificed so much to take care of me. Then the doctors told me about HOTA, the Human Organ Transplant Act. I saw the print ads and learnt more about the Act when I read the articles in the newspapers. They helped me understand what the issues and debate over organ donation were all about.
After my transplant surgery, I regained my eyesight and my life went back to normal. That was over six years ago and I only had to wait 4 months for the transplant. I made new friends, met new people and started my social life all over again. I even served National Service like every other Singaporean guy. I found myself feeling hopeful for the future and at the same time grateful for this second chance. Today, I work in a logistics company. Because of what I've gone through, I feel very strongly for organ donation. It's not just a donated cornea or donated kidney. It means someone gets another chance at life, gets to see his or her hopes and dreams fulfilled. Everyone should think about it and give their full support. Think of all the renewed chances it can lead to.
I had a successful career as a trader in a bank when it happened. I was making mistakes in my work and that was when I realised that I was unable to differentiate the different numbers on my documents and spreadsheets. I went to the optician thinking that it was myopia. It was not. It was Keratoconus, a condition that thins the cornea and changes its shape. The first fear that struck me was that I would lose my job as a trader. I loved my work and I didn't know what other job I could do, especially if my eyesight was deteriorating. Another fear that struck me was that my condition would mean costly medical bills. How would I manage if I had no job? Fortunately, my boss and the firm where I worked were very supportive. My family, too, were behind me all the way.
A transplant was my only option. I was lucky to receive a transplant before my condition worsened. It went without a hitch and I regained my vision. You could say I got my life and my job back. I wanted to contact the donor's kin to thank them. However, the donor's information is kept confidential. After my experience, you could say I see organ donation in a new light. Everyone should support it. If you consider it from the recipient's side, you'll realise that it's a worthy cause. It's giving them their life back.
Mohammad Salikin Bin Mohd
I got my donated cornea after a 3-week wait. I thought I would have to wait 2 or 3 months, but it happened quicker than I expected. To think that I was this close to losing my eyesight. It started when my vision was blurred and I had trouble seeing clearly at night. It was even beginning to affect my work as an engineer. I went to the optician but after repeated visits, he still could not fix it. Then I was referred to an eye specialist. That was when I found out I needed a cornea transplant. I had Keratoconus, an illness that can lead to blindness. I was shocked at first, but I decided I wanted to go for the transplant to give myself another chance at being able to lead a normal life. I told myself: "I'm still young, so why not?" My transplant happened in July 2008 and I'm recovering well. Now, I can go back to my job and my family. I feel that people should support organ donation. It really is a gift of a new lease of life.
Sim Ah Leng
I'm a humble fruit seller. A simple man, with a simple life. Never did I expect an episode of red eye to complicate my life the way it did. The bout of red eye left black spots in my vision. The same thing happened 20 years ago, so I thought that a similar operation would fix the problem and I would be fine. However, when I went to get my eyes checked, the doctor told me that I was going blind. My only hope would be a cornea transplant. Because of my condition, I had doctor visits once every two weeks. My family was worried for me. And I was afraid. What would I do if I went blind? No matter how simple life was, I still needed to see.
Fortunately, there was a ray of light. I was told to expect a 3-year wait but I only had to wait 3 months. I was so relieved that my transplant went smoothly. After I regained my sight, everything went back to normal. Today, my life is as simple as it was before. After my experience, I've also learnt to appreciate the little things in life. I realise that beauty doesn't lie in what you see. It's simply seeing. I feel lucky to have benefited from organ donation. I think everyone who needs it should have the chance to benefit from it too. Support organ donation and help give them that chance.
I got my liver transplant in September 2007 after a 3-year wait. Both my husband and my daughter wanted to donate part of their liver. But my husband's liver did not match. And I stopped my daughter from trying because it was her final year in university and I did not want her to go through the pain. So I waited, relying on medication to control my condition.
Things were difficult. My condition worsened, forcing me to stop working. I got tired easily and grew disillusioned. I even had trouble controlling my bowel movements. My state of mind was worst right before my transplant. I wanted to give up hope, but I had three wishes: To see my daughter graduate and get married. To be able to go back to work and focus on my career. And to fulfil my religious obligations to Mecca.
The success of my operation meant that I had a new lease of life. The greatest joy was that one of my wishes was fulfilled. I saw my daughter get married. In fact, her wedding was just 10 days after my discharge. The occasion was all the more special as she is my only child. Before the transplant, I was weak and disillusioned. Now, I'm looking forward to living the rest of my life with my loved ones.
You could say my life is all about second chances. It began when my mother was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis and the doctor sent our family for blood tests and medical check-ups. Shortly after, the doctor called and informed me that there was something wrong with my test results. I needed to go for further tests. It was then that I was diagnosed with liver cancer. Me, the fit and active PE teacher. Imagine my shock. Determined to be healthy, I took medication to control the cancerous cells and began chemotherapy.
Not long after that, my life really fell apart. In 2000, my mother passed away. 3 years later, I lost my sister to ovarian cancer. I felt so helpless. But even as I struggled to come to terms with all that had happened, I knew that I had to go on because of my family. My two children were very young at that time. I continued to live a healthy lifestyle. Despite being on medication and going for chemotherapy, I kept active and continued to teach PE. I also adopted a healthy diet, stopped eating red meat and ate more fish instead.
However, my medication began losing its effect and my condition worsened. Two operations also didn't stop the cancer. That was when my doctor brought up the option of a liver transplant. I felt hopeful about it. Since it was the only way I could get healthy again, I wanted to give it a try. My wife was extremely supportive even though I knew she was very worried. In the end, I waited 9 months to receive the donor organ. Thankfully, everything went smoothly and I count myself lucky to be able to return to my wife and kids.
Today, I still teach PE. I spend as much time as possible with my family. I also keep active and climb Bukit Timah Hill every week. I'm a firm believer that people should not give up on life, but face challenges strongly in order to overcome them. My family and I are thankful for my chance to live life anew. Give organ donation your support as it helps give others a second chance at life.
I experienced the first symptoms of kidney failure in 1992 when I was expecting my second child. I was worried then, but after the doctors put me on medication, my condition stabilised and for two years, nothing happened. But when I was expecting my third child, I had a relapse. This was when the doctors suspected that my kidneys were failing. Four years later, I went for dialysis. While I was on dialysis, I had no time for my newborn as well as my two older children. As time passed, when my family went for holidays overseas, I couldn't go with them.
Finally, in 2003, I opted for a transplant. I can't explain why, but after I made the decision to proceed, I felt this burden lift from my shoulders. I was elated. I felt hope â€“ this was my chance to get my life back on track instead of going for dialysis three times a week. I waited for four and a half years before I finally found a suitable donor. However, things didn't get better after my operation. I experienced internal bleeding twice. I went for a second operation and still, there were complications. In my pain, I asked myself if it was worth the ordeal I was going through. In frustration, I told the doctor I didn't want the donated kidney any more. But the doctors and counsellors were extremely patient and encouraged me to hang on. And I'm glad I did â€“ my third operation was a success.
After I recovered, my outlook towards life changed. For over 15 years, my life was limited by my illness. Now, I could start anew. I began by taking up beauty courses and looking for partâ€“time work. I became more active and took up swimming. I also started new hobbies such as baking. Today, with the freedom of a healthy person, I work as a freelance manicurist. I hope that I'll be able to earn a stable income soon and help my husband support the home. He's been so good to me. He's been there for me since the day we met. I cherish every moment with him, as well as my three children. Presently, I have a friend who is waiting to undergo a kidney transplant. I'm there by her side encouraging her to hang on, telling her of my own experience to inspire her. I am living proof of how a donated kidney isn't just a chance at a new life. It's a gift of life.
I met my husband when I was 19. After we got married, I wanted to look for a job, but there was always a problem with my medical reports. The doctors kept telling me that I had a urine infection. This went on for years until one day during a regular medical examination, the doctor informed me that my kidneys were starting to fail. I had to start dialysis immediately. I was 37. I had to go for dialysis twice every week and it took a lot out of me. I had to complete my housework before I went because after the dialysis, I would be too exhausted to do anything. I had no energy to cook and clean, let alone do the things I used to enjoy doing. I also couldn't go on holidays with my family. I opted for an organ transplant but I had to wait for a donor organ to become available. My eldest daughter was always by my side, but I still dreaded going for dialysis.
Finally, after six months, unable to bear seeing me in pain any longer, my husband decided to donate his kidney to me. I was very worried before our operations. What if something happened to my husband, or to both of us? Who would look after our three daughters? Thankfully things went well. The man I married really was my perfect match.
Today, what we went through together makes me appreciate the life we share, and treasure every day with my family. Organ donation has allowed me to do what's most important to me â€“ to take care of my family. I'm sharing my story because I want others to know more about organ donation. Everyone should give it their support as it lets those in need regain another chance at life.
Zuhairi Bin Samsuddin
I'm married with 2 children, one is 3 years old and the younger one has just turned one. I'm a teacher in a primary school, teaching English, Math and Music. My worries started when my kidney failed in 2007. I started dialysis, but I got tired easily and had to stop work. Since I could not do a lot of things, my whole family had to take care of me. I felt bad about being dependent on other people, even if they were my closest family members. It was a frustrating time for me, to be so helpless and to feel useless. My family was still very young. How could I keep up with these challenges for the rest of my life?
That was when I decided that dialysis was not for me. I wanted to be the one supporting my family. I wanted to be strong again, and that meant opting for an organ transplant. My doctor educated my family and I on the procedure involved and the options that were available to us, such as getting a kidney from a living donor who is a family member. I count myself fortunate that my family was calm about the whole matter and gave their full support. My parents and my parents-in-law went for the blood test and my mother-in-law turned out to be a suitable match.
My transplant took place in January 2008. I recovered quickly and went back to school to teach in May 2008. To me, organ donation is really the gift of life. I regained my freedom to do anything and everything. I can work again and support my family, and repay them for the love and support they have shown me.
I thought it was gastric. I went to the doctor to get medication for gastric and the diagnosis came back as kidney failure. I was only 16. My mum was distressed. My dad was cooler about it. If he was upset in any way, he never showed it to me. He always kept a positive outlook. I started dialysis when I was 18. Both my parents wanted to donate their kidney to me, but it was not feasible. My mother had diabetes and my dad was suffering from liver cancer. Due to my condition, I had to stop school twice. Still, I managed to earn a diploma in business administration, and also took up secretarial and sales jobs. I count myself lucky that I take after my dad. Following his example, I tried to stay bubbly and positive, and looked on the bright side.
I had opted for a kidney transplant. The next step was to wait for my turn and find a matching donor. I waited eight years. During this whole experience, the hardest time for me actually was when my dad passed away from cancer a few years ago.
Now that my health has returned, I can make a fresh start. I spend time with my friends whom I was previously not able to meet up with because I wasn't feeling well or had to go for dialysis. Even simple things like housework are now a joy because I was too ill to do them before. In the future, I want to do more sports: Swimming, trekking, maybe even bungie jumping. I ask my doctor every time I go for a check-up. I'm still not allowed to do anything strenuous, but one day I'll be able to. And I'm eagerly looking forward to that day. What does organ donation mean to me? It means a gift to live a full and fulfilling life. Everyone should support organ donation because others who are ill deserve the same opportunity that I got.
Cheong Quee Wah
I learnt I had chronic nephritis, or inflammation of the kidneys, in 1967. Back then I was concerned because the doctor told me there was nothing he could do to cure it. He could only monitor the deterioration of my kidneys and control my blood pressure. For years, I kept a healthy lifestyle and was physically fit. My kidneys were functioning below par, but life continued as normal without incident. I did my best to avoid or delay the prospect of going for dialysis treatment on a permanent basis.
However, in 2003, my condition got worse. My creatinine level hit 500 umol/l. On my doctor's advice, I did the fistula in preparation for dialysis, and I went on a strict diet where I lost 16 kg of my original 86 kg weight. The whole ordeal was quite stressful as after all this, tests showed that the deterioration of my kidneys still could not be prevented. By 2007, my creatinine level had reached 700 umol/l. My illness was affecting my blood and also causing my skin to itch constantly. Now I had no choice but to start dialysis or my other organs would be severely affected.
However, I learnt that there was another option open to me â€“ to get a kidney transplant. My wife and daughter were both prepared to donate but unfortunately their blood groups did not match mine. In the end, it was my elder sister who agreed to donate. She was 69 at the time. To be sure, my sister and I went through extensive tests and inspections before we could proceed. The tests took almost seven months. And my operation was carried out on the 30th of April 2008.
I felt relieved after the operation. I was blessed that it went through without any complications for my sister and I. I also felt a sense of freedom. One of the first things I did was to go enjoy a good meal â€“ I had been on a vegetarian diet for many years and I wanted to go back to a normal healthy diet. Today, I feel very strongly about organ donation. The operation, though complex, has minimum risks in view of our highly experienced medical professionals and the excellent facilities in our hospitals. The benefits to the recipients and their families, however, are priceless.
Yap Chin Guan & Yap Hwa Beng
Yap Chin Guan
I was put on dialysis in 1995. During the years that I was not well, my 84-year-old mum was my only support. She even travelled from one end of Singapore to the other just to visit me to make sure I was okay. After my transplant, I regained my life.
Today, I'm a taxi driver. Not only am I determined to be financially independent, I want to repay my mum. I frequently bring her out for meals and take her overseas on holidays too. But I still go back to the dialysis centre. I want to give support to other patients. I think there should be more support for organ donation. Everyone deserves a chance at having a new lease of life.
Yap Hwa Beng
I was on dialysis for 5 years before I received my transplant. As I'm single, my parents were my only form of financial and moral support. They even fetched me to the dialysis centre regularly. Even though I met new friends there, I still wanted to get off dialysis and lead a life away from machines. The only way was through an organ transplant.
Now that I've regained my health, I want to spend more time with my parents. I am also determined to take greater care of my body now and to cherish the life I've regained. I hope more Singaporeans support organ donation. It is the precious gift of renewed life for those in need.