Finding hope and support from NKF
NKF helps kidney patient who had difficulty finding employment because of her condition
She has been through at least a dozen operations, considers the hospital her second home and attends dialysis sessions thrice a week.
But Miss Nadia, 28, a petite and spunky woman, does not let her condition get her down.
She said: "I've been given so many second chances (in life), so I'm determined to carry on. And I've got my family behind me, they give me courage."
Attending dialysis sessions three times a week has made it hard for her to find a job that accommodates her schedule.
Not many employers were willing to hire her once they found out she had kidney failure and had to attend dialysis sessions on weekdays, she said.
But in March, she finally found employment as an administrative assistant under the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) Patient Employment Rehabilitation Programme. (See report, below.)
She was working as a waitress before that, but the job was too physically taxing and required her to stand for long hours.
"There were days where I could not even find time to use the bathroom and it was bad for my health.
4th Singapore's global rank in kidney failure prevalence and incidence
2 out of 3 Kidney failures are caused by diabetes
4,000+ Patients supported by NKF, about 90 per cent of needy kidney patients here
31 Dialysis centres in Singapore.
Source: National Kidney Foundation
"It was also impossible to attend dialysis sessions because of the hours," said Miss Nadia.
Under the programme, she works full-time five days a week and leaves early whenever she has to attend a dialysis session.
Besides kidney and bladder problems that have persisted since she was young, Miss Nadia also had a rough childhood.
She weighed 1.1kg at birth - half the usual weight of a newborn, and was abandoned by her mother at the hospital. She also goes by just one name, which was given to her by a welfare worker at the hospital.
When she was five months old, she was taken in by her foster motherLedly Udayappan.
Madam Ledly, 81, a widow, already had nine children back then - seven of her own and two foster children.
But she fell in love with the infant Nadia at first sight. As Miss Nadia grew older, she started experiencing sharp pains in her kidneys, had problems with her bladder and suffered from obstructive nephropathy, a condition where urine flow is blocked, leading to renal dysfunction.
She went through multiple operations, including one where doctors cut out excess muscle in her kidneys and another where they removed part of her hip bone to replace bone loss in her upper gum.
Frequent hospital visits also hindered her studies, and the Institute of Technical Education graduate found it difficult to keep up with her school work.
Two years ago, Miss Nadia's health deteriorated when her kidneys failed and she had to start dialysis at NKF.
Her dialysis sessions are subsidised by the organisation.
Despite everything she has been through, Miss Nadia credits her foster mother, whom she affectionately calls grandma, as the one who has always supported her.
She said: "My grandma is the brave one. She's always telling me to be brave."
Despite all the challenges Miss Nadia faces, Madam Ledly has always been positive about it.
Said Madam Ledly: "I took her home, so despite all these issues, I will always fight for her.
"I always pray I can live longer so I can take care of Nadia."
While Miss Nadia does not share blood relations with Madam Ledly and her siblings, their family bond is unmistakable.
Two of her foster brothers even offered to donate their kidneys to her after hers failed, but were unable to do so as one brother's kidney was not a match and the other brother faced job restrictions.
Said Miss Nadia: "It was disappointing because I had my hopes up.
"But I was very touched to know that they were willing to donate their kidneys to me.
"That's what it means to be a family."
About NKF's Patient Employment Rehabilitation Programme
Kidney patients are required to undergo four-hour dialysis sessions thrice a week, and many face problems finding a job that accommodates their schedules.
To help them, NKF launched the Patient Employment Rehabilitation Programme late last year with a $2.3 million sponsorship from Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple.
The programme helps patients like Miss Nadia find jobs within the foundation or matches them up with other employers.
Miss Nadia is a full-time administrative assistant at the NKF office at Kim Keat Road.
To date, more than 70 NKF patients are employed by the organisation.
They take up various roles such as patient relations officers - where they assist fellow dialysis patients who have trouble moving around - and peritoneal care assistants, where they help the assistant nurses during visits to patients homes. Their working hours are usually flexible to accommodate their dialysis sessions, and those under the programme can choose to work full-time or part-time.
An NKF spokesman said: "This allows the patients to take control of their lives, and have a greater sense of self-worth and integrate back into society."
NKF supports more than 4,000 kidney patients, about 90 per cent of Singapore's needy kidney patient population.
Director of NKF Allied Health and Resource Development Chua Wei Bin said: "We adopt a holistic approach and ensure they are well-cared for physically, mentally and emotionally.
"The Patient Employment Rehabilitation Programme is one such initiative to help patients build up their confidence and sense of self-efficacy through gainful employment."