Taxi driver Tan Eu Cheng had to quit his job after his kidney-failure diagnosis two years ago left him often feeling too ill to drive.
The 59-year-old, whose wife works as a cleaner, gave up searching for a new job after a year of failed interviews. "I tell them I've got kidney failure and need dialysis. Once they hear this, they stop asking questions," he said.
Mr Tan is now employed, thanks to a new National Kidney Foundation (NKF) programme officially launched yesterday to help patients with kidney failure find jobs that can accommodate their threetimes-a-week dialysis schedules.
The Patient Employment Rehabilitation Programme, sponsored by a $2.3 million grant from the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple, aims to find suitable jobs for unemployed patients, both within the NKF and with other employers.
The programme aims to have 50 patients employed by NKF by the end of next year, and 120 by the end of its third year in specially created positions such as patient relations officers and exercise specialists. It also provides career guidance and job matching services through collaborations with external employers.
There are about 6,000 people here who have lost the use of their kidneys, of whom 3,600 are NKF patients.
NKF chief executive officer Edmund Kwok said: "If we want people to employ our patients then we should show them that they can work. And what better way than to have patients look after patients."
The launch event, held at the NKF Centre in Balestier, also hosted a job fair. Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin presented Courage Awards to six patients with long service to their companies and Extraordinary Employer Awards to their employers, which included DBS Bank and the National Environment Agency.
Former cabby Mr Tan, who now works as a patient relations officer at the NKF's Serangoon dialysis centre, finds his new role fulfilling.
"Even though we are suffering from this disease, we still can do good jobs," he said.