Previously, I would and could not think of signing my organs away. I mean – if I am dead, I want to be left alone and not cut up like a newly slaughtered animal! Puhleez, I don’t want to go to heaven or hell minus my eyes, heart, kidneys, lungs, skin, liver (yeah, that many organs). I want to look pwetty in my keong si (chinese dracula?), China satin 7-layers empress look-alike gown. (btw, that kind suit costs RM400 7 years ago)
You can’t blame me. I grew in a traditional Chinese home. At funerals, we almost have to treat the dead person as if he/she is alive. We have to serve breakfast/lunch/dinner and nightcap at funeral wakes to the dead person. I had to provide basin of water to let my mother-in-law washed her face. Then, I gotta brew Chinese medicine for her. (OK, next time I tell you kids scary stories of funerals and visitations.)
Then….fate changed. I was holed up in the ICU of Lam Wah Ee Hospital for two long, ‘interesting’ months. Day in day out, I see dead people. Young and old. From 4 mths old babies to 90 years old granny. Illness, accidents or whatever way people choose to die.
Sometimes, some relatives took it wisely. Sometimes, they ought to be punched and slapped and cursed that they should be the one that die. It is that frustrating, you know? (next time I tell stories about silly things people do/say in ICU) Anyway, I was just a kay-poh-chee (busybody) so I only can watch and amuse myself.
Time goes by, death no longer bothers me. When Vincent died, I asked if his organs can be donated. At that time, I wasn’t aware that some organs have to be pledged before the person actually die. Prof. Lucy Lum of UMMC made some calls and unfortunately, even his corneas are not suitable as he was only 7 months old (4 months in real age).
Since then, I had done some parts in spreading the awareness of organs donation. Long time ago, one of my letter was published in The Star about organs donation.
The background is my photo. I swear! I did not ask anyone to take that photo of me signing my organs away. It was the official photographer who was doing his rounds and captured me unaware!
Actually it was an event at my church. Looking on is Vincent and my kids’ current paediatrician. If I was laughing (instead of being sombre) it was because I told the nurses that I will sign away everything except my skin. I thought they wanted my beautiful, flawless, porcelain like facial skin for someone doing plastic surgery. Turns out that they only take skins from the back, used for burnt victims etc.
So you see? Pledging your organ is a cool thing to do. However, note that approval/permission from your next of kin is required and will over-ride the pledge. So, best thing is to spread the awareness to everyone, especially your loved ones.
Dr. Cheang did asked me when he saw me signing the form,
“Are you pledging for everyone?” (meaning kids and hubby)
“No, I am doing for myself but, hah, they can’t escape. I will know what to do, touch wood, touch wood, choy…‘
Which means that even without pledging, the next-of-kin can still donate the organs of the person they are responsible for. Eg. parents donating their children’s organs. Spouse to spouse.
How does one go about pledging their organs? Most private hospitals can arrange for you to fill in the form. A card will be mailed to your home. You can also pick up leaflets from Government Hospitals.
Read up facts and myth about organs donation. A Singaporean website HOTA with some FAQ. However, I cannot find a decent Malaysian webpage with information on organs donation. Not even the MOH’s site.