Child liver transplant recipient still keeps in touch with doctors 25 years later
It has been more than 25 years but Madam Raziah Begum Alamgir has continued to keep in contact with the doctors who treated her at the National University Hospital (NUH).
In an interview with The New Paper, she explained: “I can’t thank them enough."
The 38-year-old, who is self-employed added that she “always finds ways to meet them” because she feels “blessed” since she became the first successful child liver transplant recipient in 1995.
It was also the first time a reduced graft was used, in which an adult liver was surgically reduced in size and transplanted.
The whole procedure gave Madam Raziah a new lease of life even though she took nearly three years to recover.
Her life, she added, “mostly went back to normal” after that.
Until her youngest daughter came along, Madam Raziah would occasionally invite emeritus consultant professor Prabhakaran Krishnan and emeritus consultant professor Quak Seng Hock out for dinner.
Professor Prabhakaran is from the department of paediatric surgery, Khoo Teck Puat–National University Children’s Medical Institute, NUH. Professor Quak is from the paediatric liver transplantation programme, National University Centre for Organ Transplantation, NUH.
“With three kids it is not so easy to do, but before that I used to invite them to a small gathering in a quiet restaurant," said Madam Raziah.
She also has two sons, aged eight and 12.
Madam Raziah does not turn down any interview requests or to share about her experience with liver failure and getting a transplant at 11 years old.
She recounted how she first started experiencing symptoms at around eight or nine years old.
“My skin would always be itchy and dry. I couldn’t sleep at night, because it was always too hot, and I was always scratching my whole body. I would itch really hard to the point that I used to bleed," she said.
She was also frequently jaundiced and always had a bloated stomach.
She added: “I was not like a normal person, I looked totally different. I used to look like a pregnant woman at that age.”
In school, she struggled to stay awake due to the lack of sleep the previous night. Her mother was allowed to stay in school from 7.30am until her lessons ended in the afternoon.
But her life transformed after she sought treatment at NUH where she was diagnosed with liver failure. It was another month before she got a donor for the liver transplant.
Her "proudest moment" was when she participated in a 200-metres race in school when she was in Pri 6.
She said: “I didn’t win the race, but taking part was a very big achievement for me.”
Today, Madam Raziah spends her time running an online business selling cosmetics and perfume. On weekends, she helps her parents around their stall in the Geylang Serai Market.
And yes, she feels a sense of pride whenever she gets recognised as being the first successful paediatric liver transplant recipient.