Wife's plea for liver donor: 40 strangers offer to help but no match found yet
She didn't know who else to turn to, so she went to the media and online, asking people to help her ailing husband.
Her request was for potential liver donors to step forward.
The plea resulted in more than 40 strangers offering to be a donor for Mr Jason Mah, 34, a former bartender, who has liver cancer.
His wife Serene Koh, 27, told The New Paper on Monday: "I was so heartened to receive so many responses.
"Seeing so many brave people step forward to offer themselves to be a donor, despite them not knowing my husband, is something I am so grateful for."
The human resource executive had approached the media, including The New Paper, for help. She had left a message on our Facebook page on Nov 1.
"As a wife, it is quite painful to see my husband go from being such a happy-go-lucky person to someone who has to suffer through so much pain. That's why I want to do all I can to help him find a suitable organ and recover from this ordeal," said Ms Koh.
Since then, Ms Koh has been inundated with calls and messages offering her support. During this interview at the hospital yesterday,she had to answer a 10-minute call from someone expressing an interest in being a donor.
Ms Koh said she will check if these prospective donors have the right blood type and weight. (See report above.) She then gets them to contact the transplant coordinator.
So far, they have yet to find a match.
One of those who stepped forward was Mr Abdul Rahim Osman, 57.
Mr Abdul told TNP he stepped forward to volunteer because he wanted to help a fellow Singaporean who was clearly in need.
Although he was sad that his offer was ultimately turned down because of his age, he is still doing his part to spread the word online.
"I'm happy that people have come forward. Hopefully, they will be able to find a donor," he said.
The couple's ordeal arose within a year of marriage, around December 2011, when doctors diagnosed Mr Mah with liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. The couple have no children.
Ms Koh recalled: "I was on my way to work one morning when I received a call from my family members saying my husband had vomited blood."
Mr Mah was sent to the hospital, where tests revealed he had liver cancer.
Said Ms Koh: "My mind just went blank. Before that, he used to be the one taking care of me. Now, I have to take the lead and take care of him."
Since then, Mr Mah has been in and out of hospital.
Doctors told Ms Koh that they should prepare for the worst if he does not receive a liver transplant within five years.
"After we could not find a match from our family members, we decided to approach the public for help. We're hoping that if we can find a suitable donor on our own, we will be able to go ahead with the transplant."
Mr Mah was admitted to hospital yet again on Thursday and was so weak that he struggled to complete his sentences when we were there, but his wife is still hoping for a miracle.
Said Ms Koh: "I have to stay positive. The number of people who are coming forward to volunteer has given me fresh hope that my husband has a chance to survive."
I have to stay positive. The number of people who are coming forward to volunteer has given me fresh hope that my husband has a chance to survive.
- Ms Serene Koh
WANT TO HELP?
If your blood type is B or O, please call Ms Serene Koh at 8588-1530.
WHAT TO EXPECT AS ORGAN DONOR
What does it take to be an organ donor? And what can donors expect?
National University Hospital's Professor KK Madhavan, co-director of the National University Centre for Organ Transplantation explains:
- Potential donors must be healthy with no illness and history of medication;
- For liver transplants to be feasible, the donor and the recipient should be about the same size (in terms of BMI or body weight) and in the same blood group;
- They would have to go for blood tests, X-rays and CT scans;
- Those who are found to be suitable will be further assessed by a National Transplant Ethics Committee, which will decide if a transplant can take place.