The heft of his decision soon became palpable when he was put through a slew of tests. Dilun’s first interview was held at National University Hospital’s kidney transplant office, and he went home armed with a 27-page literature with information on living kidney donation. Thereafter, a laborious journey of medical test after medical test as well as psychiatric assessments ensued.
“Most of the interviews centred on ensuring there was ‘informed consent’. As all good doctors will say, ‘First, do no harm.’ The medical team’s utmost priority was to ensure there was no long-term impact on my health and that I knew what I was signing up for.” He did. Dilun admits his body has taken a beating over the years and he wears his surgical scars like a badge of honour. “I’ve been through many surgeries before for broken bones and whatnot, and I know there are some risks involved with any procedure, be it minor or major.”
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While he was given the all clear on both physical and mental health aspects, hesitance came from one person — Madam Serene Neo, his mother. “Initially she urged me not to do it, out of concern for my own health. Eventually she came around, and backed my decision. At that point in time I could afford to give Bryan a kidney and save his life. That’s all that mattered. With assurance from the medical team that my health would be closely monitored, and the surgery was a low-risk one, it became a pretty easy decision to make.”
Encouragement also came from his pillars of support: the ones he counts his closest friends. He did not publicise his decision, a behaviour somewhat incongruous with today’s social-media-obsessed proclivities. Later in 2012, he came forward with the story as he wanted to raise awareness about living organ donation, even if it meant risking his personal privacy.
“It was the right decision.”
A seemingly-insurmountable hurdle soon presented itself. In October 2010, the ethics committee ruled “no” and the arrangement came to a halt. “Till now I have no idea why they said no. I was disappointed, naturally, but I just held out until six months later a meeting was reconvened.” Meanwhile, time was ticking. Bryan’s health debilitated: he had high blood pressure and suffered an infection of the peritoneum. Between 2010 to 2012, he was hospitalised for 20 times.
Fortunately, the ethics committee gave approval the second time around. However, because the validity of the medical tests had already expired, Dilun had to undergo all the tests once again.
Que sera, sera, they say, and that was the almost-carefree mindset Dilun had when he decided to go through with his decision. Any fear of death or medical complications was assuaged as he decided to leave it up to fate. As he lay reclined on the gurney and was being wheeled into the operating room, he felt nerves but mostly relief. “I was glad the transplant was finally going to happen.” The anaesthetic coursed through his veins, and when he regained consciousness four hours later, he was already in the recovery ward.