A 2nd Chance @ Life

Organ transplants give many a second lease of life

KUALA LUMPUR: Television celebrity Andrea De Cruz, former minister Tan Sri Sabaruddin Chik, student Muhd Fikri Norazmi and management consultant Lee Chen Hoe are people with different ages, interests and standing in life. But they all have one thing in common.

They have all been given a second lease on life through organ transplant operations. Now each one is able to lead normal lives, with some even getting the opportunity to start over in an exciting manner.

De Cruz’ story inspired lovers all around the region five years ago when her then fiancé actor Pierre Png donated part of his liver to save her life when she suffered liver failure as a result of taking slimming pills.

Now married to Png, De Cruz also has another chance in her TV career.

“After the fifth year, you have this new-found inspiration, new-found drive,” said the radiant 32-year-old actress who is eager to start a family soon through adoption.

Sabaruddin, the 65-year-old former Umno secretary-general, who suffered kidney failure in December 1998 and underwent a transplant in China a year later, brought Malaysia the first medal in golf at the World Transplant Games held in Bangkok recently.

An avid golfer, he still drives himself to play golf with “normal people.”

“I lead a normal, healthy retirement life,” he said.

Most Fifth Formers might dread the coming SPM examination but for 17-year-old Muhd Fikri Norazmi, it is a gift of life that has enabled him to sit for the public examination.

The first mechanical heart boy was once like Tee Hui Yi, buying time with the device.

He spent a few months at the National Heart Institute and was fortunate enough to find a heart donor in December 2005.

Today, he is not only healthy but is also able to participate in sports and games like other active teens.

Retiree Albert Gunaratnam, the longest living heart transplant patient in Malaysia, now tries to make the most of each day and live life to the fullest.

Gunaratnam is especially grateful for the ability to lead a normal life because nine years ago, he could not even manage simple things like lifting a toothbrush.

Management consultant Lee Chen Hoe is forever grateful for the kidney he got almost 11 years ago from an American engineer, C.H. Bender, who was declared brain dead after suffering a stroke in 1996.

His kidneys failed when his twin daughters were just two and a half years old in 1991.

He has now stopped celebrating his birthday but commemorates the transplant date instead.

Appreciating life more, he looks forward to each day, especially to be with his daughters, and is also active in charity work.

For 21-year-old A. Revathi, her world literally became brighter when she received corneas from donors in Canada and Malaysia.

Her vision had been deteriorating from birth and became so bad that she dropped out of school by 16.

She was diagnosed with keratoconus, a condition in which the cornea changes to a more conical shape compared to its usual gradual curve.

She went through a dark period when she felt helpless and depressed.

Since the operation, she can see clearly without any visual aid in her left eye.

Now she has taken control of her life and works as a clerk in her family’s scrap metal business.

ORGAN DONATION INFO

For more information on organ donations, contact the National

Transplant Resource Centre at 03-2694-2704/2705, or the individual centres:

> Ipoh Hospital (05-5222324/2533333 at ext 2324),

> Penang Hospital at (04-2002436/2293333 at ext 435)

> Sultanah Aminah Hospital in Johor Batu (07-2231666 at ext 2751).

The national toll-free number is 1-800-88-9080.

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