“A true hero. An inspiration,” Seng Jia Ying says of her father, Seng Kang Boon who saved a life with his bone marrow. This encouraged Jia Ying to become a bone marrow donor too, so she can – hopefully, one day – walk in her father’s shoes.
Fruit hawker, Kang Boon enjoys serving the community and for 20 years, volunteered at the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association and was active in the People’s Association. His interaction with a regular customer’s child who had a blood disease, made him want to do more to help and in 2005, he became a bone marrow donor. “I was at HSA (Outram) blood bank when I came across the BMDP and since I’m already a regular blood donor, I thought why not sign up as a bone marrow donor too?”
After only 6 months on the register, he was found to be a match for a patient. “I was unperturbed about the donation. Grateful for my life’s blessings, I want to help in whichever way I can and if donating my bone marrow was a way to help, I was glad to do it,” the 53-year-old recalled and unlike many donors who have family support, Kang Boon went through it alone. “I didn’t want my then young children to worry or to burden my wife with my decision,” he explained.
Kang Boon donated via the PBSC method. He describes his experience, “Before the donation, I underwent injections to increase stem cells growth in my bloodstream so that the bone marrow could be extracted through a method similar to blood donation. The donation itself took less than 9 hours to complete. I was back to work the very next day and apart from being a little more tired than usual, I felt otherwise normal and didn’t experience any side effects. 11 years later, I’m still in good shape!”
His family only learned about the donation when they received a fruit basket from the BMDP. “Before the donation, my father was merely a fatherly figure but after this, I never looked at him the same again. He’s a hero minus the cape,” Jia Ying confessed. At a BMDP roadshow, Jia Ying signed up as a donor. As her father says, “we don’t need profound ways to help.”
The aspiring teacher hopes to instill in her future students the self-sacrificing spirit, “like my father, I don’t have much to offer but anything I can do to help others, I will,“ she said.
Both father and daughter are united in their call to lend a helping hand. “Spend a little time to understand about bone marrow donation so the myths and misconceptions won’t mislead you. Keep an open mind and spare a few minutes at a donor drive booth. You only live once and so do others. So help within your capacity and expect nothing in return!” they echoed. What a team!