Man who gave kidney to boy shares life after donation

Mr Lin Dilun (right), 27, with his mother, MadamSerene Neo, 47.

As he was wrapping up a meeting with one of his clients, Mr Lin Dilun asked if there were any other questions.

He was surprised when one of the clients asked: "So, you feeling better?"

The client was referring to Mr Lin's selfless deed of donating one of his kidneys to a young boy, who at the time he had never met.

The 27-year-old events consultant had read about six-year-old Bryan Liu who had no kidneys and decided to help.

Before Mr Lin's generous donation, little Bryan had to endure 10 hours of dialysis and take a cocktail of medications daily to stay alive. He also had to get growth hormone injections.

After a two-year journey before becoming an altruistic kidney donor, Mr Lin underwent a kidney removal operation on July 21 this year with the transplant happening on the same day at National University Hospital.

Now, with Mr Lin's kidney, little Bryan can live life like any healthy child.

And as for Mr Lin, he has been back at work for a week after his six-week medical leave.

Recalling his client at work on Friday, Mr Lin says he was taken aback by the gesture.

He tells The New Paper on Sunday: "I could feel myself blushing. It was out of the blue."

The client told him that it was a brave thing he did. When Mr Lin asked the client how he knew about about his act, the client said he had read it in TNPS.

Mr Lin says: "It was a surprise for me because I don't expect people to recognise me."

TNPS revealed him as Bryan's kidney donor on Aug 5.

"Can you feel that it is gone?"

Ever since the story broke, he has been getting many questions from friends and colleagues.

The most common question?

"Can you feel that you have only one kidney?"

Or there are the variants: "Can you feel that it is gone?", "Do you feel lighter?"

The answer to all of those is "No", says Mr Lin.

"It is not like I have a hole in me. I still feel the same," he says.

Apart from his client, he says he has not had people recognising him on the street.

"People shouldn't remember me, but they should remember what I did."

Mr Lin was a reluctant interviewee for the previous interview and his only reason for speaking to the media is that he hopes his story will inspire others to do the same.

He says: "I'm a very ordinary person. If I can do it, I'm sure others can do it too.

"I hope six months down the road, people will remember... that there's a living guy who gave his kidney to someone else."

Mr Lin says that his mother, Madam Serene Neo, 47, a housewife, has been his pillar of support throughout the whole journey.

Pillar of support

Pillar of support

She was there every step of the way, from the meetings with the transplant ethics committee to the day of the operation.

She says her greatest source of heartache comes from Mr Lin.

"He suffered so much because of me," Madam Neo says, teary-eyed.

Mr Lin had a difficult childhood, with his parents separating when he was seven years old.

But that did not stop him from becoming one of the top students in Mayflower Primary School from Primary One to Primary Three. He was also a prefect.

His parents' divorce was finalised when he was 10. His father was given custody of him and his elder brother and his mother was allowed visiting rights.

But he later ran away from home to be with his mother.

Madam Neo has since remarried and Mr Lin has two younger half-siblings.

Mr Lin went on to study in Nanyang Polytechnic but did not complete his studies because he was "too focused on extra-curricular activities".

After serving his National Service, he went on to work instead of going back to school.

His mother hopes he will still go back to school and eventually get married.

When asked whether girls have been flocking to him ever since the story broke, the single man brushed the suggestion off with a laugh.

But he admits that he has received some requests to add him as a friend on Facebook.

He said: "I clicked on them and didn't see any mutual friends, so I left it as it is."

Bryan's family have been keeping in touch with him.

"Bryan's dad calls me once in a while to check on me. Bryan's uncle also sent me a thank you message," he says.

Adjusting back to life after the transplant has been good so far.

He resumed playing football, albeit very cautiously, two Sundays ago for about 15 minutes, "just to feel the ball".

A few days later, after some checkups, he said his doctor gave him clearance to resume sports activities.

Last Sunday, he played half a game.

He says: "I was a little breathless because I've not played for six weeks.

"I need some time to get back to my previous level. The ball work is still there. I've not lost the ability to do so."

He also says his teammates were a bit apprehensive about whether he should resume playing football so soon.

Before the operation, he played football every weekend and paintball several times a month.

But has the experience of being an altruistic kidney donor changed him?

He says: "It is not as if I've gone for an operation and I'm now different. I'm still the same person."

"People shouldn't remember me, but they should remember what I did."

- Kidney donor Lin Dilun

chaihyn@sph.com.sg

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