NTU student's organs donated to Slovak patients

NTU student Justin Tan, who died on Nov 25 after a freak accident, had told his family that he wanted his organs to be donated upon his death.
NTU student Justin Tan, who died on Nov 25 after a freak accident, had told his family that he wanted his organs to be donated upon his death.PHOTO: JUSTIN TAN/FACEBOOK

Four Slovakians bear the living legacy of a Singaporean who was killed in a freak crash in their country last month.

Less than a year before his tragic accident on Nov 19, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) student Justin Tan told his family that he wanted his organs to be donated upon his death.

In carrying out his wish, the family hoped the gift will inspire the four Slovakians to live fully.

"Although Justin's body has been cremated, we know that a part of him continues to live in the bodies of four other people.

"We hope that Justin's gift to them will inspire them to live fully and with the same positive spirit that our precious son has always had," his family said in a statement released by NTU yesterday.

Mr Tan, 23, was driving alone in the midst of a storm in Slovakia, on the way to a ski resort, when a falling tree hit his car.

The third-year mechanical engineering student, who was on an exchange programme in the Czech Republic, was found unconscious by a rescue crew. He never regained consciousness.

His parents and younger brother, Malcolm, flew to Slovakia on Nov 23. Mr Tan died two days later. Soon after the doctors certified him brain-dead, his parents agreed to donate his heart, liver and two kidneys.

His father, Mr Mitchel Tan, 52, said: "It would have been a challenge to transfer the organs back to Singapore in time.

"So I thought, I will do it in Slovakia instead, since the Slovakian doctors can do the transplants immediately. I'm sure and I believe that Justin had been here for a reason."

Eighteen of Mr Tan's classmates, who were also on exchange in the Czech Republic, made a 400km train journey to see him for the last time in the hospital in Slovakia.

Said fellow NTU mechanical engineering student Tan Choon Yong: "Justin may be gone, but he will never be forgotten. Somewhere in Slovakia, his heart is still beating."

The School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering is planning a special memorial service next month.

NTU will continue to offer counselling care to his family and schoolmates to help them cope with their loss.

Said the older Mr Tan: "I am proud of what Justin had achieved in life, and I am heartened to be able to fulfil his last wish. He will be missed by so many, he has touched many lives in a short time."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 07, 2016, with the headline 'NTU student's organs donated to Slovak patients'. Print Edition | Subscribe