By LEE YUK PENG and ONG HAN SEAN
KUALA LUMPUR: A former television show host donated part of her liver as a gift of life to a total stranger. Unfortunately, the recipient died.
For donor Chew Hoong Ling, it was still the right decision and she has not regretted it.
“Every minute of a person’s life is precious,” said Chew at the launch of her book I Don’t Know You But Let Me Save You here yesterday.
The book is about her experience giving almost 60% of her liver to the stranger, a 14-year-old girl, Lee An Qi, who had liver disease.
“In November 2008, I received an e-mail appealing for O-positive blood. Lee, who was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma, was in need of a liver transplant,” said Chew.
Chew’s father, a Chinese physician, supported her decision to donate part of her liver for Lee.
Despite discovering that she only had one kidney herself before the transplant (she was born that way), Chew was determined and went ahead with the operation in Singapore in January last year.
The surgery left Chew with a big scar on her abdomen.
However, Lee died from a lung infection on Sept 20 last year.
Chew does not consider her deed a vain effort. “I am happy I managed to give her another eight months,” she said.
“I received more than what I gave Lee,” added Chew, referring to the friendship, support and many other encounters that she came across after the transplant.
She said her decision also brought her divorced parents back together — for the first time during Chinese New Year last year, she had a reunion dinner with both of them.
Chew first pledged to donate her organs when she was 13 after reading an article in The Star in 1986 about 11-year-old Ong Ai Ling, who had pledged her eyes.
“Her story really moved me. If she could do it, why couldn’t I?” she said.
“If more people pledge to donate their organs, there would be no need for living donors,” she explained.
Chew’s book, available at all major bookstores at RM19.90 a copy, comes with organ donation pledge forms for readers to sign up and send to the National Transplant Resource Centre.