Hubby gives wife kidney in NUH's most challenging kidney transplant

Hubby gives wife kidney in NUH's most challenging kidney transplant
Mr Mohamad Rafae Asral decided to donate his kidney to his wife, Madam Puspawati Mustaffa, last year as he had had enough of seeing her suffer through dialysis and seeing his children miss her at home.

Joan Chew meets the couple behind NUH's most challenging kidney transplant last year.

Security supervisor Mohamad Rafae Asral, 40, admits he is not a romantic man.

He is not given to marking Valentine's Day with gifts or special meals for his wife, Madam Puspawati Mustaffa, to whom he has been married for 20 years.

Mr Rafae, who draws a basic salary of $1,100 a month, but can earn up to $1,800 after clocking overtime, said: "I cannot afford to." The couple have six children, aged 11 to 19.

But then how many other men can claim to have given their wives a new lease of life by donating one of their own kidneys to her?

Madam Puspawati was undergoing dialysis three times a week and facing a bleak future when her husband gave her his left kidney on April 30 last year. Last Sunday, the couple attended Mark of Love, an event at National University Hospital (NUH) to commemorate the hospital's 50th spousal transplant, which took place last month.

Mr Rafae said the decision to donate his kidney was easy as he had had enough of seeing his wife suffer during dialysis and seeing his children miss her presence at home.

For a year, the housewife had to have dialysis sessions lasting up to four hours each time. It hurt Mr Rafae to see the nurse insert two thin needles into the fistula - a surgically modified blood vessel created by connecting an artery to a vein - in his wife's right upper arm that would allow her blood to be transferred into the dialysis machine and back into her body.

Mr Rafae would then take her home in a cab, a luxury mode of transport the family could ill afford.

He would buy her little treats, such as fried fishballs, to reward her after dialysis.

Overall, it was a strain on the family. Mr Rafae took a drastic pay cut at a new job that would let him work nights, so he could take his wife during the day to the National Kidney Foundation dialysis centre along Upper Boon Keng Road.

Finances were tight and on some days, the children went to school without pocket money, he said.

But he was encouraged when his older children stepped up to care for their siblings while their mother was undergoing treatment. "In life, you win some and you lose some. For me, I bit the bullet and carried on."

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