Inspiring tale of ex-radio presenter

Madam Jamilah Yusop, a former Warna 94.2FM radio presenter, tries to live a normal life despite having to undergo dialysis three times a week. Yesterday, she was given the Muslim Kidney Action Association's Courage Award.
Madam Jamilah Yusop, a former Warna 94.2FM radio presenter, tries to live a normal life despite having to undergo dialysis three times a week. Yesterday, she was given the Muslim Kidney Action Association's Courage Award.ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

Book recounts her journey from denial to positivity after end-stage kidney failure

Madam Jamilah Yusop, 61, used to go to the gym thrice a week.

She now goes for dialysis thrice a week, after being diagnosed with end-stage kidney failure last year, which means she needs dialysis for the rest of her life.

Her journey from denial to despair and now, positivity, is documented in her book titled Berat Mata Memandang (No Matter How Heavy It Looks, in Malay).

The former Warna 94.2FM radio presenter said she was shocked when she first heard in 2012 that she had "kidney problems".

Denial and inaction worsened her condition. She saw a sinseh instead of her nephrologist but, after six months, she woke up one day breathless and with her face puffy.

"The thought sank into me then that I should have seen the nephrologist earlier," she said. She started going for dialysis in 2013.

Despite her illness, she tries to lead a normal life, playing with her three-year-old granddaughter, reading the news, and meeting friends and other kidney patients.

Her 67-page book, which she self-published in August, was initially meant for her family to remember her, but she later decided to print 1,000 copies to encourage others."Hopefully, if other kidney patients are in the same boat as me, when they read this, they will understand and say 'If Jamilah can do it, why can't I do it?'" she said.

Yesterday, the Muslim Kidney Action Association (MKAC) presented her with the MKAC Courage Award at its 25th anniversary high tea at Furama City Centre hotel. It plans to give the book to its new kidney patients for free.

Madam Halimah Yacob, who will be re-nominated as Speaker of Parliament, yesterday lauded MKAC for its work in supporting kidney patients and their families.

National disease registry statistics show that although Malays account for 13.3 per cent of the population, they made up 24.5 per cent of people on dialysis last year.

Madam Halimah pointed to a campaign by the MKAC, which garnered more than 60,000 signatures to support organ donation.

This led to a change in the religious law and an amendment to the Human Organ Transplant Act.

From 2008, kidneys could be retrieved from Malays who died, unless they had opted out.

The proportion of Malays among kidney transplant patients has risen from 8.1 per cent in 2004 to 10.3 per cent last year.

Praising the MKAC's vision, she said: "It is much better to invest efforts in empowering individuals to take charge of their own lives, rather than to provide a crutch for people to lean on."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 04, 2015, with the headline 'Inspiring tale of ex-radio presenter'. Print Edition | Subscribe