Donations help her seek help for kidney problems
Donations, job offers pour in for mother of two with kidney problems after The New Paper's online video on her family
For the past 17 years, Madam Jurina Johari has lived with just one kidney.
Years after her right kidney was removed in 1999 because of chronic kidney disease since her teens, the single parent would discover blood in her urine, feel nausea, experience bloating on her face and feet, and have trouble walking for long hours.
But she would visit the doctor only when the situation was dire.
Deep down, she knew she needed further treatment, but she was worried about the medical bills.
Money is hard to come by for Madam Jurina, who cares for her 60-year-old mother and her two sons in their 20s, one of whom is autistic, in a one-room rental flat in Sembawang.
In July, Madam Jurina, 42, finally sought treatment for her kidney condition after a flood of donations poured in following a video The New Paper did on her for a Ramadan series.
The video, which has close to 420,000 views to date and has been shared more than 6,300 times on Facebook, touched the hearts of thousands when they learnt of her financial and personal struggles.
On Aug 24, Madam Jurina underwent surgery to insert a ureteric catheter, or tube, to determine the cause of hydronephrosis, or swelling of her left kidney.
She dipped into the donations to pay the subsidised fee of about $560 for the surgery.
Madam Jurina told TNP: "As long as I could live with my condition, I would. (Having this surgery) was just not within my means.
"But from the generosity of people, I was able to, and I am very grateful."
When TNP visited her home last Thursday, Madam Jurina was visibly weak, walking with a slight limp from the pain in her left kidney area.
She is due for a check-up next month to determine the next course of treatment for her condition.
She has been advised against working and doing strenuous activities for the next six to seven months.
But the determined mother's only thought is putting food on the table for her family.
She was forced to quit her job as a part-time assistant pharmacist just before Ramadan to care for her autistic son, Mr Muhammad Shahirul Junadi, 21. His brother, Mr Muhammad Shafiee, 22, is serving his national service.
"I want to go back to work and be healthy again. My mother and sons are all I live for and I want to take care of them," said Madam Jurina, wiping away her tears.
When the donations poured in, Madam Jurina took her mother, Madam Rabiah Salim, 60, for her "monthly" check-up to test her diabetes and cholesterol levels, and check for hypertension and heart disease.
Previously, Madam Rabiah would have a check-up once every three months to save on the expense.
After the TNP video, more than 2,000 people reached out to see how they could help. They also visited Madam Jurina and her family.
Madam Jurina showing the food and toiletries she received from generous The New Paper readers. TNP PHOTO: OH XING YEE
The family members now have their meals at a round dining table, which occupies a previously bare corner, or at a small rectangular table. Both were gifts from well-wishers.
Previously, they ate their meals on foldable trays placed on the floor.
A new fridge, also donated, has replaced a faulty second-hand one that had forced Madam Jurina to keep fish in a styrofoam box filled with ice.
Three cabinets and shelves line a wall and are stocked with at least six months' supply of essentials such as cooking oil, sugar, cereals, beverages, and dried goods.
Others offered her job opportunities and lessons on sewing and baking so she could earn money from home.
Madam Jurina said: "A day after the video was released, visitors streamed in from day until night, with some even waiting at the void deck. My home was packed with people who came with their generous donations.
"I was so touched I couldn't stop crying. My mother cooked our Hari Raya feast for the first time this year."
Some of her well-wishers moved her to tears. "A man in his 20s suffering from stage four cancer visited me. A man in a wheelchair came with his children. He told me, 'I don't watch videos, but the one of you broke my heart'.
"As I said in the video, there are so many others who are less fortunate (than me)," she said.
Ms Chin Tong Mui, general manager of the Social Service Office at Sembawang, told TNP that Madam Jurina and her family are eligible for financial assistance, including rental, utilities, and service and conservancy charges until November.
She said the SSO is in contact with Madam Jurina to provide support, where appropriate, and to explore care arrangements for her mother.
Madam Jurina worries about needing a kidney transplant one day.
She said: "I fear that my left kidney may suffer the same fate as my right. If that happens, I hope to be able to get a transplant... That, and for me to be able to care for my family for as long as I can."
- Additional reporting by Iffah Durrah Kajai
About Madam Jurina's condition
Hydronephrosis, or swollen kidney, may be due to urinary stones, cancer or scarring from previous infections, among other causes.
Dr Sim Hong Gee, a senior consultant urologist at Gleneagles Medical Centre, said that inserting a ureteric catheter is part of an examination to evaluate the cause.
If there is an obstruction or narrowing present, a double J stent is inserted after evaluation to allow the urine to bypass the obstruction or narrowing, from the kidney to the bladder, said Dr Sim.
Patients with urinary stones, cancer or infection will need separate definitive treatment.
If the obstruction is not relieved by the stent, the kidney function deteriorates as the urine is unable to flow into the bladder to be passed out. The obstructed kidney eventually fails, he said.
Those with just one kidney do not need a transplant if it is functioning well.