He loses 30kg so he can donate kidney to sister

Ms Sheralyn Tay, who received a kidney from her younger brother Alphonsus 11 years ago to the day, says she is now enjoying life without dialysis.
Ms Sheralyn Tay, who received a kidney from her younger brother Alphonsus 11 years ago to the day, says she is now enjoying life without dialysis.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Ms Sheralyn Tay first found out in 2001 that her kidneys were failing but she never thought she would one day need a kidney transplant.

She took medication and continued with her activities as usual.

But in 2005, her health took a turn for the worse and her doctor told her that she needed a new kidney.

"I started feeling really unwell... and I was getting really tired," said Ms Tay, 35, who runs her own writing consultancy firm. She also noticed crystals forming on her skin.

She later found out that it was because of the build-up of waste products like uric acid in her body.

 

GIFT OF LIFE

It was like you're breathing, but you're not really living. Since the transplant, I've just gone on and lived my life. When they say it's a gift of life, it's not an understatement.

MS SHERALYN TAY, on how her life changed after her kidney transplant.

When her younger brother, Mr Alphonsus Tay, 32, volunteered to donate one of his kidneys after hearing about his sister's condition, it offered her a lifeline.

"I was already prepared to donate my kidney when I saw her health deteriorating," said Mr Tay, who runs his own marketing consultancy firm. "She's my sister. I have two kidneys, so I wanted to give one to her."

After nearly a year of evaluation, doctors certified in 2005 that he was fit to go ahead with the procedure. He was overweight, so he had to lose about 30kg before he could donate his kidney. Today marks the 11th anniversary of the transplant.

Ms Tay said she is now enjoying life without dialysis. In 2005, she had to quit her job as a journalist so that she could go for dialysis three times a week.

Looking back on the experience, she said: "You're exhausted, you have a headache, you're dizzy and you feel like throwing up. It's terrible. It was like you're breathing, but you're not really living.

"Since the transplant, I've just gone on and lived my life. When they say it's a gift of life, it's not an understatement."

Mr Tay said he hopes that his example will encourage more people to step forward as kidney donors.

Although he now has only one kidney, he said he does not feel any different compared with before the surgery.

The only thing that has changed, he said, is that he now takes better care of his health.

He said: "I owe it to my sister to take better care of myself. You have to because it's a way of making sure the recipient won't regret the decision to receive your kidney."

Carolyn Khew

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2016, with the headline 'Little brother comes to aid when her kidneys failed'. Print Edition | Subscribe