A nightingale's gift of life for five

Photo: The Straits Times

GEORGE TOWN - Teenager Carmen Mark may have passed away but she continues to live on - in her boyfriend's heart as well as through five people who received her donated organs.

Carmen died on Tuesday, 25 days after she collapsed suddenly at Singapore's Nanyang Polytechnic where she was studying nursing. Carmen, a former student of Penang Chinese Girls High School, was 18.

A few days after she slipped into a coma on July 3, following an arterial rupture in her brain, her boyfriend Shaun Teh posted a photograph of her on Instagram and wrote that she was "the nicest and sweetest girl in the world".

For almost a month, the 19-year-old student clung on to the hope that his girlfriend would wake up from the coma and that they could grow old together.

While he kept vigil over Carmen's condition, Shaun posted touching comments on his Instagram account about her and their almost year-long relationship.

He also wrote: "It's time to wake up baby. Wake up and give your shaun a kiss, okay? We'll all be praying for you. I love you so much. You're my everything and I don't want to lose everything. Keep fighting and stay strong."

Shaun, an Upper Six student of a school here, did not give up hope even after Carmen suffered a relapse a week ago, following a bout of improvement when she was able to move her hand in response to her father's question while in a semi-conscious state. He uploaded a photograph of them together and, like his earlier Instagram postings, began his post with the number of days that they had been together.

On the day of Carmen's death, Shaun posted a heart-wrenching post that received more than 500 likes as well as numerous comments from his friends who said that they would keep him in their prayers and hoped he stayed strong.

Carmen, the only child of Mark Kok Wah and Ariess Tan, started her tertiary education in Singapore some two months ago on a scholarship from the republic's National Heart Centre after obtaining 8As in her SPM examination.

Her uncle, businessman Mark Kok Weng, 40, described her as a caring, bright, independent and disciplined girl. "I am very proud of her for wanting to donate her organs to help those in need. She was a real angel," he said at Carmen's home in Taman Hutchings here yesterday.

Kok Weng said the wake would be held at Carmen's home and the cortege would leave the house for the Batu Gantong crematorium at 2pm tomorrow.

Carmen's cortege arrived at the Penang International Airport's cargo terminal at 8.30pm yesterday.