Boy dies weeks after wish to pet golden retrievers fulfilled

Ophthalmologist Dr Leo arranged a birthday party for Isaac (in wheelchair) after learning about his wish to pet golden retrievers. About 100 of the dogs showed up for the party at the Botanic Gardens on Sept 17.
Ophthalmologist Dr Leo arranged a birthday party for Isaac (in wheelchair) after learning about his wish to pet golden retrievers. About 100 of the dogs showed up for the party at the Botanic Gardens on Sept 17.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

The teenager with brain cancer who loved golden retrievers died on Sunday.

Lahl Isaac, who turned 13 last month, had his wish to pet the dogs fulfilled when about 100 retrievers showed up at the Botanic Gardens for his birthday party on Sept 17.

The party, organised by ophthalmologist Leo Seo Wei and other dog owners, drew a crowd of about 200, many of whom came with gifts for Isaac.

His mother, teacher Tan Mei Lee, 54, told The Straits Times that he was admitted to KK Women's and Children's Hospital last Tuesday with a high fever. "His tumour had affected his organs. He had weak lungs and had to use a ventilator," said Madam Tan.

"The doctors said he wouldn't last the weekend. He wanted to go home, so we rushed him home."

Isaac was discharged on Saturday and died the next day at home. He was buried yesterday.

Said Madam Tan: "I did not expect him to go so soon. I was hoping for his condition to improve."

Choking back tears, she added: "At least he's not suffering."

Dr Leo said she visited Isaac in the hospital last Thursday with her husband and son. She said: "I am quite shocked. He was still in good spirits when we saw him... He was even keen to join me and other volunteers at a dog cafe this Saturday."

His positive spirit will stay with her, she said, adding: "Isaac showed us how the simple things which we take for granted could light up his life. It made a difference to him."

Madam Tan said she was thankful to everyone who had helped Isaac, including those who came for the golden retriever party, the hospital staff and the Make-A- Wish Foundation. The foundation, which grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses, sponsored a trip to Tokyo in August for Isaac, his parents and his older sister. There, they visited the Pokemon Centre, the zoo and an owl cafe.

Madam Tan said many people contacted her with offers of help after reading about Isaac. Former Malaysian politician Lim Ah Lek even introduced them to a sinseh in Kuala Lumpur and paid for two rounds of treatment.

"He was a stranger, yet he was so kind and so concerned. I want to thank him and everyone else for their kind thoughts," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 01, 2016, with the headline 'Boy dies weeks after wish to pet golden retrievers fulfilled'. Print Edition | Subscribe