Born with life-threatening conditions, they moved Singaporeans to give

PHOTO: Born with life-threatening conditions, they moved Singaporeans to give

SINGAPORE - These three children were born with life-threatening conditions, but they were not battling alone...

Miss Ng was born with congenital ichthyosis, a rare incurable hereditary skin disorder which causes her skin to flake off like fish scales, exposing raw-looking wrinkled pink skin underneath.

Defying all odds, she turned 22 on Feb 11, 2013.

Her heart-rending plight and the acute anguish of her parents made front page news in The New Paper (TNP) in October 1991, when she just was a fragile eight-month-old.

Miss Ng's unusual lifelong medical condition moved the public so much that they donated $296,000 to a charity fund set up to help the low-income Ng household pay for her care.

Her parents gave half of the sum to charity, while the rest was used up by 2004, mostly on high hospital bills.

Miraculously, Miss Ng managed to reach full-fledged adulthood, flourishing under the tender loving care of her devoted family, comprising her delivery-driver father Ng Swee Sia, 53, part-time hawker mother Cheng Fong Mui, 47, and younger siblings Amy, 17, and Kelvin, 19, who were born normal.

Despite all her setbacks, Miss Ng - who studied at Opera Estate Primary School and Ping Yi Secondary School - obtained a Higher National ITE Certificate in Accounting from Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College East in March 2011.

She was offered a job by Dr Low Chai Ling, the founder of aesthetic chain The Sloane Clinic, after the doctor read about her story in TNP. Since September 2011, Miss Ng has been working about three hours a day from home as a web administrator and earns about $800 a month.

The practical-minded and realistic young woman, who has never allowed herself to fantasise about grand ambitions, said: "I'm happy with my current job... it's very flexible. But if this doesn't work out, I want to do data entry work."

Due to her physical limitations, she has become a homebody who enjoys the simple life, whether it's watching television, going online or reading.

But every once in a while, Miss Ng does come out of her shell.

She attended The Sloane Clinic's past two annual themed dinner & dance functions and was one of the judges for their fun-filled competitions, which she enjoyed being a part of.

Two heroes

Bryan was the boy with no kidneys.

Charmaine was the girl with advanced neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer that strikes the adrenal glands in infants and children.

Both suffered unimaginable pain and discomfort.

Despite the life-threatening diseases that racked their frail little bodies, they were remarkable kids who faced insurmountable odds with a zest for life, a cheerful smile and a fighting spirit.

TNP exclusively chronicled Bryan's and Charmaine's individual struggles.

Both inspirational cases struck an emotional chord with readers and galvanised strangers to action, and were generally met by an outpouring of love, support and generosity from Singaporeans.

As a result of our reports, Bryan gained a new kidney - and a new lease of life - through an altruistic donor (left, Mr Lin Dilun, with Bryan).

Similarly, $500,000 was raised in just three weeks for Charmaine to seek a potentially life-saving procedure in the US.

Even though she eventually succumbed to her terminal illness in October 2011 at the age of six, the "feisty princess" lives on in these pages.

Two very different endings, but with the same beginning - in TNP.

We first highlighted Bryan's condition in June 2010.

Now eight, he was born with only one kidney, which was small and had abnormal tissues.

By the time he was two, it had failed completely.

His mother, Madam Serene Ng, 39, donated one of her kidneys to him, but it also failed.

After our report was published, 25 readers stepped forward, wanting to donate their kidneys to him, but a successful match never materialised.

Then Mr Lin Dilun came into the picture. After reading our 2010 report on Bryan, he made the monumental decision to offer one of his kidneys to the boy, who was a stranger to him.

Today, Bryan is able to seize back his childhood. As for Ms Lim, she wants to keep Charmaine's legacy alive through an online cancer portal focusing on paediatric oncology.

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