Singapore – A 59-year-old Singaporean man in critical condition due to his failing liver got a second chance in life thanks to a fellow Singaporean who stepped up as a liver donor.
Organ donors are difficult to find. Aside from someone’s willingness to donate, the requirements are strict. Blood types, physical health, body type, and age are some of the factors that affect a person’s eligibility to donate.
On May 22, Leslie Tan Zheng Yu, 24, went to Facebook as a last resort to appeal for a liver donation for his father, Eddie Tan Beng Leong.
He shared that Mr Eddie was suffering from end-stage liver disease and urgently needed to find a suitable liver donor “to give him a new lease of life.”
Unfortunately, his children were not suitable to donate because of blood type incompatibility.
At the start, Leslie was sceptical about posting his appeal on social media and had doubts if anyone would go through that much trouble for someone they did not know.
“I was unsure about finding any donors through this way,” he said. “How likely was it that someone would go this far for a complete stranger?” he thought.
Leslie was proven wrong as his post reached the right people and was pleasantly surprised and grateful when over 50 people volunteered to donate, according to Yahoo! News.
Just eight days after the post, a complete stranger who was eligible offered to help.
Mr Eddie’s angel-in-disguise was fellow Singaporean Lin Hanwei, 36, who underwent a five-and-a-half-hour surgery on May 30 at the National University Hospital (NUH)’s National University Centre for Organ Transplantation (NUCOT).
The AXA Insurance financial services director comes from a family of generosity. Lin’s younger brother had donated his kidney, also to a stranger, seven years ago at the same hospital.
According to liver transplantation senior consultant at the NUCOT and associate professor Alfred Kow, finding a suitable donor was no easy feat. The chance is about one in three, he said.
“This estimate is very much dependent on the blood group match, body weight match, size of the liver, quality of the liver – for example, whether the potential donor has fatty liver – and anatomical structures of the liver,” he added.
Leslie and his family were racing against time as they were given only a week from the posting to find a suitable donor while ensuring Mr Eddie’s chance of survival.
Thanks to the power of social media, Mr Eddie is now slowly recovering from the eight-hour liver transplant operation and adjusting to his new medication routine.
When going through a liver donation, 40 to 60 per cent of the liver is removed. Miraculously, the liver would regenerate itself almost instantaneously and reach approximately its full size after six to eight weeks. It would continue to grow throughout the first year after the operation.
Although humans cannot live without this powerhouse organ, we need only 25 to 30 percent of a healthy liver to maintain normal functions.
“I hope that through our experience, we can help more people understand the process of organ donation and appreciate the difference such a generous act can make to people’s lives,” shared Leslie who was inspired to share his story.
On June 9, Mr Eddie posted an update expressing his gratitude to everyone who assisted in his ordeal.
To my liver donor,My name is Eddie Tan, 59 this year, and a father to two wonderful children; thanks to your kindness…