Ming Yi had doubts on donating kidney at first

Ming Yi, who donated his kidney to a stranger last week, said he was inspired to do so by a TV news report about kidney patients here.

It said that on average, four people contract kidney disease in Singapore daily and there was a shortage of donors.

After considering for about two days, he decided to support the cause and contacted hospitals.

At a press conference yesterday - the first since his release from prison in September 2010 - the 53-year-old said in Mandarin: "I had wanted to keep the donation quiet... but news caught on quickly."

He added that he decided to hold the conference after reporters approached him to ask for an interview when he was recovering in hospital.

"I did not want anyone to worry for me unnecessarily until I was scheduled to make the donation," he added. "I wanted to keep it low-key because it is personal."

Venerable Ming Yi, who appeared to be in good spirits and has put on weight since his last public appearance, confirmed that he donated his left kidney on April 27 to a young woman, who has not been named. She is recovering well, he said.

The Buddhist monk, who was discharged from hospital on April 30, said he was doing well. In fact, he could walk on his own the day after the operation.

"The doctors asked if I needed stronger painkillers. But I didn't feel any pain at all," he said during the conference at Foo Hai Chan Monastery, where he is abbot.

Ven Ming Yi revealed that he initially had doubts about his decision. But he was determined to go ahead after learning that donating a kidney would not affect his health.

"Initially, I was afraid that I would be a burden to those around me after the surgery, but I went online to research on the procedure and found that I will be able to continue life as usual with one kidney," he told reporters.

"The tests were very rigorous, and gave me confidence in the organ donation process in Singapore."

Many people have expressed their support for his act of kindness, and he felt encouraged, he added.

Ven Ming Yi also broke his silence on how he has been coping in the past few years.

He served four months in jail in 2010 for misappropriation of funds and falsifying accounts at Ren Ci Hospital.

The monk revealed that he has been travelling to Thailand and Taiwan to give talks on Buddhism. In Singapore, he continues with his duties at the monastery and helping the poor.

He added that it did not matter whether he was known as "venerable", by his birth name Goh Kah Heng, or if he was known as a former convict.

"They are just empty names," he said.

"I have to continue moving forward and not fret over what is beyond my control... At this time, I just want to tell people I am good and healthy."

This article by The Straits Times was published in MyPaper , a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.