What do you do when you find out not one, but both your children have Hyper-IgM Syndrome – a rare genetic immunodeficiency disorder that causes frequent lung and respiratory tract infections where long-term survival is rare?
For Roseline Chin, it was nine years of a living nightmare – hospitals, emergencies, intensive care units and huge medical bills; changing her outlook on life as a mother and an individual. “It was the darkest period of my life and several times the doctors told me to prepare for the worst,” recounted Roseline.
Bryan, 13 and Brandon, 10 both needed bone marrow transplants if they were to survive and the first stop was the cord blood bank where a match was found for Brandon but big brother Bryan wasn’t so lucky and they desperately sought help from the BMDP. Luckily a matching bone marrow donor was identified for Bryan in a few months and the future looked brighter. But, it wasn’t all going to be smooth-sailing and after numerous complications along the way, Bryan’s immune system collapsed on the 40th day after the transplant. Survival now depended upon the willingness of his donor to actually donate his bone marrow for a second time.
And it wasn’t only the boys’ health that was in a critical condition from the severe illness, the family’s finances were in the red too. Fighting fear for the lives of her two boys, Roseline’s anguish was compounded by the dire need for funding and once again, the BMDP stepped in to help source for a benefactor to help pay the costs. “The hospital stays and medication wiped out most of my savings but thanks to the BMDP, we were able to pull through,” said Roseline.
Fast forward five years, both boys are now schooling and taking part in all the daily activities that other boys their age get up to. And after years of waiting for this moment, the boys and Roseline finally got to meet the hero who saved Bryan’s life – not once but twice. Lim Shi Hong is in his final year of studying mechanical engineering in the UK but was back in Singapore recently for the holidays and was thrilled to have a chance to meet up with the boy whose life he saved and for Roseline, he is literally a dream come true.
Roseline concludes, “Share this story with all the mothers you know and you can help more people understand what the BMDP is about. Thank you BMDP! My boys wouldn’t have made it without you!”