This 6-year-old is S'pore's youngest kidney recipient

It's the miracle that he and his family had been praying for - and in happening, a chapter of history has been recorded in Singapore.

Little Bryan Liu has finally found a kidney donor, making him the youngest recipient of the organ from a living altruistic donor.

An altruistic donor is one who is not related to the recipient via family links.

So far, most of kidney donors have been family members.

The six-year-old successfully underwent a kidney transplant on Saturday and is now recovering in the intensive care unit of the National University Hospital (NUH).

It was a long, hopeful wait of almost three years for Bryan, who started Primary 1 this year.

The New Paper first reported his condition in June two years ago when he was just four.

He was born with only one kidney, which was small and had abnormal tissues.

By the time he was two, that kidney had failed completely, despite Bryan drinking up to three litres of water daily, to keep it going.

His mother, Madam Serene Ng, 38, then donated one of her kidneys to him, making him the youngest kidney transplant patient here then.

But the transplanted kidney also failed because of a rare viral condition and it was removed in September 2009.

Daily dialysis

He had been without a kidney since, and had to undergo 10 hours of dialysis at home daily to stay alive.

He also had to have regular growth hormone injections and a cocktail of medication to keep his blood pressure under control.

25 offers, zero matches

25 offers, zero matches

Bryan's father, Mr Victor Liu, 50, a telco group manager, and his elder twin sister, Charmaine, could not donate their kidneys to him as they have different blood types from his O+ blood group.

After TNP ran a story about his plight in 2010, 25 readers stepped forward wanting to donate their kidneys to him.

Some even said that they would donate to others on the waiting list for cadaver kidney, if their kidneys weren't a match for Bryan.

Potential donors have to undergo a battery of tests, including a medical fitness evaluation, counselling, psychiatric appraisal and an interview with the hospital's ethics committee to see if they are suitable for donation.

But despite all the excitement then, two years went by without a successful match.

Some people didn't even turn up for the first evaluation, Madam Ng had said last year.

She added that she even stopped hoping for a donor.

It was all quiet until two months ago, when Madam Ng was told that a donor had been found.

She told TNP: "We don't know who he is. He wants to be anonymous. We only know that he's in his late 20s."

Despite knowing that there was a matching and willing donor, she said nothing was confirmed until after the transplant.

Said Madam Ng: "If he had changed his mind in the operating theatre, the transplant would have been called off."



So she kept her fingers crossed - until after the transplant was successfully performed in a seven-hour operation.

Professor K. Prabhakaran, NUH's head and senior consultant of the Department of Paediatric Surgery who did the operation, said it went well.

Bryan's family can finally heave a sigh of relief and rejoice in the miracle.

Said Madam Ng: "Finding an altruistic donor for him is like a dream come true.

"Now he can finally do things he couldn't do previously."

When Bryan was on dialysis, he had many restrictions.

For example, he was allowed only to drink 300ml of fluids a day and couldn't go swimming for fear of infection.

But all this will soon change, said Madam Ng.

"We're all very excited that he can finally have a normal life," she said.

"He doesn't need to go to the hospital so frequently any more. No more tubes in him, no more foreign objects in him.

"There are so many things that he can do now. It's a new life for him with so many things he can look forward to."

Still in pain

Still in pain

When we spoke to Bryan over the phone last night, and all he said was "cannot eat" and "painful" before hanging up.

He may have sounded a little down, but Bryan's family were filled with both joy and gratitude.

They want to thank the donor but, as the rules would have it, they have no way of contacting him.

Said Madam Ng: "We're really, really very grateful. We didn't think there would be such a person.

"From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for giving Bryan the gift of life. It's also a gift of freedom.

"No words can express our gratitude towards the donor. Thank you for giving my son the gift of life. Thank you..."

And after a pause, she added: "It's not just Bryan, but our whole family can now look forward to a brand new life together."

And there was thanks for this newspaper as well.

Without any solicitation, Madam Ng said that the articles in TNP about Bryan made a difference.

She said: "We also want to thank The New Paper. Because of the stories, a donor came forward.

"We've never thought this could happen."

Altruistic donors hard to come by

Altruistic donors hard to come by

It's not easy to find an altruistic kidney donor here.

Firstly, it's extremely rare to find someone who is unrelated to the recipient and yet willing to offer his or her kidney.

Then, the donor must have the same blood type as the recipient.

Next, the donor has to pass through a battery of tests which include a medical fitness evaluation, counselling, tests and psychiatric appraisal.

All of these require the donor's commitment as he would have to turn up for his tests and appointments on time.

All these require time and effort, and not many people are willing to make the sacrifices to help someone they don't even know.

The donor also has to be interviewed by the hospital's ethics committee to see if he can donate his kidney.

The transplant ethics committee of the hospital must give a written authorisation for the removal of the donor's kidney.

Then, the donor must give consent for his kidney to be removed from his body and not revoke his consent.

Finally, the donor has to understand the nature and consequence of the medical procedures he has to undergo as a result of his donation.

For Bryan Liu's family, it was almost mission impossible when they started the search for a kidney for him.

His mother, Madam Serene Ng 38, said: "We never thought we would ever find a living donor for him. "But even though we knew it was almost impossible, we still had to give it a try.

"We could not give up because he's still so young."

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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