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Penang couple to meet recipient of late daughter’s heart

 | September 11, 2017

The parents of 18-year old Carmen Mark, who died while studying in Singapore, are looking forward to a visit from the woman who was given her heart in the Lion City.

Carmen-MarkPETALING JAYA: The parents of an 18-year-old Penang girl who passed away while studying in Singapore in 2015 are expecting an emotional visit from the recipient of their daughter’s heart, who plans to make her way north to see them.

The Straits Times (ST) of Singapore reported today that Mark Kok Wah, 46, and his wife Ariess Tan, 43, who live in Penang, were first contacted by part-time clinic assistant Serene Lee from the Lion City through a Facebook message on Aug 4.

The 37-year old Lee revealed that she was the person who was given the heart of their daughter Carmen Mark.

Lee, a mother of three children, suffered from dilated cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle and relied on a mechanical pump that ran on external batteries to keep her heart pumping properly.

Carmen, who was studying nursing at Nanyang Polytechnic in Singapore, had succumbed to an arterial rupture in her brain and doctors arranged for her heart to be transplanted into Lee.

“I will treasure this heart and live life to the fullest. I’m grateful to Mr Mark… as he could have chosen to say ‘no’,” Lee was quoted as saying.

“Now, I want to carry on Carmen’s legacy (of helping others) and promote organ donation together with her parents,” she added.

The ST report said Lee now volunteers at the patient support group at the National Heart Centre Singapore to help patients waiting for heart transplants.

Meanwhile, Mark, a specialist construction applicator, said he hoped that by sharing their story, people would change their mindsets about donating their organs.

“The taboo among Asians on organ donation is hindering many lives from being saved,” he was quoted as saying.

According to ST, Mark faced objections when he signed the form allowing Carmen’s organs to be donated.

“People said she must go in a complete body. It was very hard for me but I had to do it, for I believe she’s not completely 100% gone,” he was quoted as saying.

“She’s still around in Singapore to me,” he added.

Carmen’s liver, kidney and pancreas were also given to three other patients.

The parents signed their consent for the organs to be donated under Singapore’s Medical (Therapy, Education and Research) Act which was what Carmen had wanted, the report said.

In her first message to Mark, Lee revealed she had been reading his Facebook posts, saying it made her cry when she realised how much he missed Carmen.

“And twice you posted that you wish to hear your daughter’s heartbeat. How much I wanted to tell you: here I am. I will fly over to Penang to let you hear,” she said in the message reproduced by ST.

“If you are willing and ready to see me, and hear her heart beat, I will fly over this September. I will bring a stethoscope to let you hear (Carmen’s heartbeat). If you are willing I would like to also say my thanks to her,” she added.

“So I promise you. Carmen’s legacy will live on and I will walk the hospital wards until this heart stops, to be an inspiration to other patients for as long as this heart beats.”

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