SINGAPORE - Punggol East MP and Deputy Speaker Charles Chong went for a liver transplant earlier this month, with his younger son, Glenn, the donor.
The People's Action Party announced earlier this month that the veteran MP, who defeated former incumbent Lee Li Lian of the Workers' Party at last year's general election, was taking eight weeks of medical leave following a "planned medical procedure".
In an e-mail interview with The Straits Times on Tuesday (Dec 20), Mr Chong, 63, said he was diagnosed with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis three years ago following a routine medical check-up.
Over the course of monitoring his condition, his doctors found several small lesions on his liver. While there was no immediate need for surgery as his liver was still functioning well, doctors advised him in October this year that a liver transplant was best for the long-haul.
"We decided to do it now while I was still in overall good health, rather than wait until things got worse," he said.
Mr Chong said his younger son, Glenn, 30, was "a good match and is in excellent health, and he very generously agreed to donate part of his liver to me."
The surgery took place on Dec 1, and his son was discharged the next day. The older Mr Chong was discharged two weeks later.
For now, Mr Chong has been told to get plenty of rest, and is on immunosuppressants so that his body does not reject the new liver.
This has led to his body having a lower immunity than he was used to, but he is taking the opportunity to eat more healthily - "so less oil, less salt in my diet," he said.
He will also have to spend the festive period doing follow-up blood and liver function tests, which he said he does not mind "as that takes the monotony out of being at home all the time."
While he is "itching to get back to Punggol East", he can only do so after doctors give him the all-clear.
"If things go well, my doctors may clear me for limited public engagements after (the eight weeks of medical leave is over), but it is right now still too early to say," he said.
But he added that the Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MPs, particularly Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, have stepped up to help look after his single-member constituency in the meantime.
This article was first published on Dec 20, 2016.
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