SINGAPORE - Even at 39 years old, local personality Andrea De Cruz has not stopped thinking about being a mother - and the fact that she may have only eight years left to live.
De Cruz, who has been married to local actor Pierre Png, 40, for 11 years, is unable to have her own children as she is on anti-rejection medication after a liver transplant in 2002.
The couple made headlines back then, when De Cruz suffered liver failure after taking slimming pills Slim 10 and Png, her then-fiancé, donated part of his liver to her.
The celebrity couple were guests at a Lux event to unveil its new collection earlier this month, where they talked about what keeps their relationship alive and renewing their wedding vows in church last year.
Speaking to The New Paper at an interview afterwards, the lovebirds appeared at ease and were candid about their marriage and even about a topic as morbid as her life expectancy.
De Cruz said: "Statistics show that my body might reject the liver after 20 years. It's been 12 years now, so we have eight more years to go. What if the statistics are true? What if I lose my liver eight years later? Do I want to have a kid and let Pierre raise him or her on his own after that?
"That's a big concern for us."
The couple have thought about adopting since 2010, but have shelved their plans due to time commitment and health reasons.
"We are very realistic and practical about it. We won't say, 'Let's not think about this issue' because there is a possibility that something might happen eight years later. So for now, our fur kids will do," said Png, referring to their three dogs.
However, the pair admitted that they do get envious when they see other parents with their children.
De Cruz revealed that they attended a friend's 40th birthday party over the weekend, where there were many children around. She said: "It was so nice to see the fathers playing with their children, and I thought how nice it would be if Pierre has a kid.
"Whenever such thoughts hit me, I just have to try to let it go. But having kids has always been at the back of my mind."
So do they feel that not having any children is the key to their loving, long-lasting marriage?
Png disagreed, saying: "I have friends with children who have gone their separate ways and they blame it on the kids.
"I think it's just an excuse, kids are not the problem. It's a matter of managing your time well and spending enough time with the family."
The couple, who say that they seldom argue, reveal that the fights between them sometimes break out over the way De Cruz spoils their pets, which they affectionately speak of as if they were their own offspring.
Png said: "I am a traditional guy, so I believe in disciplinary action. I think children learn from the school of hard knocks and we need to teach them how to be respectful and have manners."
De Cruz added with a laugh: "I usually won't blame the kids. If the kids misbehave, I blame the parents for their teachings, as the kids are very young and they don't know anything. I guess I am more of a lax parent."
Worst-case scenario: Liver failure, death
Dry mouth, heart palpitation, dehydration and diarrhoea.
These are some of the possible side effects of taking slimming pills.
"There are various types of slimming pills out there and it will be difficult to generalise what type of side effects can be expected," said Associate Professor Lee Yung Seng, a senior consultant with the Division of Paediatric Endocrinology at the National University Hospital.
The most severe reported effect of resorting to such quick fixes is liver failure.
The two cases occurred in 2002, purported to have been caused by an herbal slimming pill called Slim 10.
The then popular slimming pill from China contained fenfluramine, which causes heart-valve problems and liver failure. It led to the death of logistics executive Selvarani Raja, 43, from liver failure.
Singapore actress Andrea De Cruz also suffered liver failure from taking those pills.
But she was saved by now-husband Pierre Png, who donated part of his liver to her.
Prof Lee said doctors at the tertiary hospital did not see an increase in the number of girls complaining of side effects from slimming pills.
"Perhaps it is dealt with at primary health-care setting," he said.
He said the hospital does not encourage slimming pills for children or teenagers.
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