Liver donor atoning for history of violence

SINGAPORE - The man who gave part of his liver to a 10-year-old girl said one reason he did it was to "atone" for his past as a gangster.

Speaking to reporters yesterday from his hospital bed, where he is recovering from last week's surgery, 48-year-old Chow Wei Lin revealed that he was in a gang when he was a teenager.

"I used to get into fights, I wasn't afraid to die. But now, it's different," he told Lianhe Wanbao.

"If I were to get involved in gang fights now, I would of course be scared of dying. But I'm not afraid to give my liver to save a life."

Mr Chow underwent surgery last week at the National University Hospital. About 28 per cent of his liver was given to Phyllis Poh, a Primary 5 pupil at Bedok Green Primary School.

Phyllis suffers from a rare disease that causes her liver to fail or become cancerous, and her growth to be stunted.

Mr Chow, a factory technician supervisor, changed after he met his current boss, who encouraged him to mend his ways.

Since then, he has hoped to make up for his past mistakes.

Mr Chow stepped forward after Phyllis' plight was highlighted in a report by The Straits Times.

He noted that very few people would have done so.

When he found out that he was a match for Phyllis' blood type and satisfied other conditions, he realised "this is what God wanted me to do...this was fate".

He also told The Straits Times: "If it had been my children who needed the liver, and neither my wife nor I could donate, I would wish for someone to come forward to help."

He has two children, a 21-year-old son who has just finished national service and an 18-year-old daughter who is studying at a polytechnic.

Phyllis' family has visited him to thank him.

He also visited the intensive-care ward to see Phyllis, but had to stay outside as she is highly susceptible to infection. He gave her a victory sign.

She was weak, but gave him a feeble wave. "She's my hero," Mr Chow said.

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