Thursday, 2 June 2005

God's special gift

Dr Tan beckoned me over. I hesitated but I knew I’d have to face the stark reality sooner or later. Was I to faint, I knew I’d be in safe hands and in safe surroundings – the Kings College Hospital no less. But I couldn’t faint because I was working and the woman on the operating table was the centre of attention, not me. I inched my way towards the table and from afar could see that they have cut her wide open. A sort of giant pincers held apart the two sides of her stomach waiting for the surgeon to remove her liver.

My camera man was right behind me but the sound man, a big hefty guy, remained in the background, turning whiter by the minute.

As I stood there, watching her insides, I wondered, what is it that made her special? What has she got inside her that gave her the steely determination, the courage and the strength to go through with the operation which had a 50/50 percent chance of success? Of course I knew the answer. I had been with her and the family for the past few weeks. I knew what she has. She has a child who was in need of a liver and she had decided to offer part of hers to save her daughter’s life.

She was wrought with guilt when both she and her husband discovered the condition of their second born. So, she decided that was the only course of action. She believed it was her fault that her daughter was born with such life threatening defect. There’s no persuading her to the contrary.

At that time, the only liver transplant was carried out with liver from a dead person. Dr Tan had just pioneered the sharing of liver and liver transplant from a live donor. I had reported his pioneering work and it was a coincidence that the mother, by then desperate, read about it. It was going to be done in London, she had decided, but it was going to be expensive. Very expensive. To the tune of £75,000. Many doors that she knocked on turned her away. “It’s expensive. She’s going to die,” they told her point blank.

The petite woman soldiered on and knocked on more doors until one finally opened – no questions asked, no blaze of publicity of kind donor holding up cheques or press conferences.

The few weeks I spent with the family before the operation taught me a lot. It taught me that a child, no matter how ill, no matter how handicapped, deserved a chance to live a normal life. It taught me that a mother with such a child, no matter how severe a condition, never gives up. But it was the weeks after the operation that taught me a lot more. I came to understand humility, I came to understand sacrifice and I came to appreciate what Allah has given me. Strong and healthy children.

Without going into the gory detail of the operation, suffice to say, the transplant on her 4 year old proceeded without a hitch. The child was wheeled out, a part of her mother’s in her, that will will her to live on.

The next day, I was at her bedside and as the morphine ceased to be effective, she squeezed my hand hard and for the first time I heard,”It’s painful, Kak Teh! But it must be worse for N. She must be in worse pain and I can’t be with her,” We both cried. Hospital regulations dictate that mother and child had to be separated because of obvious reasons. The child might wake up and want to be with mother, who could hardly move. Mother might want to cradle her baby and and take the pain away from her. They were put in two separate wings with the father rushing from wife to child, never a sulk and not a word of complain.

Years later, the child had more complications. She gave up work to take her to and from school. She still brings food cooked from home and makes sure N is free from any infections. Such dedication and such devotion.

Another mother I met was in Birmingham with her two year old suffering from a disorder whereby he was born without a rectum. As if that was not enough, the little toddler also had two holes in his heart. He needed operation very badly. The money that was promised was slow in coming but my story about his plight brought in £10,000 from a very generous donor to top up what they already had. And even then, I remember, they were short of £400.00. I wrote letters and made phone calls to various people and Alhamdulillah, a week before his operation, we were in my front room, counting coins from the Friday prayer collection at Malaysia Hall. That made up the £21,000 that was needed.

Throughout, the mother remained strong, optimistic and cheerful. She never gave up hope. Her boy was going to live. They were going to take the boy for umrah. But it was not to be. He died.

Another mother I met gave birth to a pair of Siamese twins – the most cheerful and clever pair of twins I have ever met. They were naughty times two and I say that with affection! They were brought here for an operation to give them a chance to live as separate individuals. Eventually, the twins were taken to Saudi Arabia where they were successfully operated on. The mother, A, never once complained about what Allah had given her. In fact, it never occured to her they were different. She and her husband were in fact prepared to raise the twins the way they were born - together, joined at the hips.

There are many mothers like these strong wonderful women that I had had the opportunity to meet in my line of duty. From their faces, I learnt to recognise the inner strength and the patience that shone through. They soldier on and fight for the survival of their children, to give them a quality of life that they deserve, like any other children.

So, if ever I complain and moan about my children, about their lack of this and that, I am reminded of these women, of their faces serene and full of acceptance of God's gifts. And now, I stand to salute these women, these mothers as I thank God Almighty for a precious gift delivered to me 24 years ago today.
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30 comments:

anedra said...

KakTeh: Now that I am a mother, I know what great joy and fulfillment children bring to your life no matter what condition they're in. You don't even have to see, feel or touch them to know! It's just there.. in quantums that can't be described!

You're a great mother yourself, so give yourself a pat on the back too!!

And is he really 24 ALREADY?? Send my love and kisses (big wet sloppy ones on his cheeks!). Tell him that Kak Anedra misses him and that he'd better get in touch with me soon!!!

atenah said...

Allah selamatkan kamu, anak bujang Kak Teh (T or H?)

Mothers are angels that God send to take care of small children.

Mobilemom said...

That's one of the reason I pray so hard that ALLAH gives me that second chance in life so that I can always be there for my children.

They bring me great joy and satisfaction in life being a mother!! I love being a mommy to my kids. As "nakal" as they are at this age, but it's all worth it.

meandbaby said...

Dear Kak Teh...before I was a mum i didn't know that i was capable of the feelings and doings macam sekarang nih..and after 2 boys..bersyukur dengan pemberian Tuhan dan tahu Tuhan itu maha adil.
my 2 munchkins -(Danish - 4 yr with DS and Zafran - 1 yr 3 mths)..mcm Kak Teh jugak ,bila read articles on special mothers bersyukur diri masih lagi beruntung..

zammy yammy said...

i'm gonna call my mummy now...

Lollies said...

I think nearly all mothers are willing to make sacrifices as big as that. Anytime! I don't think I can bear to see them sick. Even the most timid woman, would pounce to ensure the survival of their children. That is Allah's rahmat.

Woman at the well said...

Yes, Kak Teh, we know about mothers´love, but it´s always touching to read stories like these. In fact, i think that mothers have the power to make our species better than it shows.

narfnarf said...

kak teh: reading this makes me wanna be in your line of duty. beshnyer. :o)

AuntyN said...

Make me want to slap myself in the face, for whining about my "misfortune". Don't know where to hide my face now.

Happy Birthday to Hafiz, tayang sikit lah the bday boy tu kat sini, mana tau ada anak dara yang berkenan tu (ataupun dah di sambar orang tu)....

Ms.B said...

Echoing Narfnarf, this post makes me ache to be a mother.

And my desktop's drenched with teardrops. *SOBS*

MA said...

Kak Teh : Being a mother is the best thing that EVER happened to me. Kalau tgkkan gaya - mmg I ni tak de tokoh nak jadi mak orang, but God knows everything we dont.

As a mother, I was tested with almost losing my children at earlier age, though the tests were not as great as what some mothers undergone, but that was enough to give me a wakeup call on what life is all about and what is really meant by ANUGERAH DAN AMANAH ALLAH.

Anugerah is being bestowed to you because you are special (to be a mother to a child).

Amanah is God's trust to you.

Sebab itu I am very passionate about my kids - because they are specially selected by Allah to be my children.

For that, I am eternally grateful for such lovely gifts and I will take care of His Trust the best I can.

atiza said...

Reading your post makes me glad being a mom..

Happy Birthday Hafiz..make sure you take good care of your mommy, ya?

drbubbles said...

kakteh,

hish your posting ni nearly put me in tears...by the way, si hafiz tu reminded me of the beatles. hehe

faux diamante said...

selamat hari lahir, hafiz...

adik yg paling i sayang pun namanya hafidz.ehehe...

yg lain sayang jugak, yg ni sikiiiit lebey...

good post, tarbiyyah berhikmah. sayaaaaaang kak teh.

i just snapped at aishah just now for making a mess on my table, i will now go and hug her.thanks.

MassyLassy said...

Selamat Hari Lahir to your son, Hafiz!

Not being a mother yet, I am not given the apportunity to have this feeling of fulfillment and great joy of having children but having a mother who has sacrifice so much for the family, a mother who is a gentle soul... makes me appreciate her more than ever! Thank you for this entry Kak Teh! Menangis tak sudah-sudah!!!!

d'arkampo said...

Finally, no more blurred makcik.

A proud mother.

...and proud children being her kids.

Sunflora said...

Kakteh, 24 years ago your life changed forever. A very moving story indeed! Happy birthday to you son. I hope he knows how lucky he is :)

Ewok said...

Happy Birthday to Hafiz.

this post made me feel there's something missing in my life.

btw, murtabak resepi on blog. you can impress your kids this weekend :)

Jade said...

dear kak teh..
i long to be one. :-D but am yet to be a wife.. a girlfriend even. muahahaha...

btw.. hope you're feeling better...

Atok said...

aaaaa...sweet.
sat gi, pejam celik... dah nak kenduri pulak kan, hehehe.

Blah! said...

Waah, finally get to see your face! Apasal kak teh blurkan gambar zaman muda tu?

MakNenek said...

congrats kakz, for being the mother that you are to your children. they seem to love u very much. so nice.. i pun nak jadi mom macam u :) happy birthday to hafiz... lucky u to have a mom like her!

atenah said...

waaaa 1st tima mak cik tak blurrr, vogue gitu. yr son pun hemsem le, errrrrr dah ada calon? :)

Mutiara said...

Happy Birthday to hafiz. Make your mom proud as she proud of you

Kak Teh said...

thank you all for the kind messages. ventured out to work yesterday and came back to regret it. Even superwoman needs a rest and a back rub. and thank you for kind words of me as ma.
there was some problems accessing my blog this morning.
It will be a matter of time before H finds out that he is gracing my blog for all to see. If you see me gone - u will know why..

CikNi said...

Hepi Besday

Anonymous said...

This is quite a sweet entry, happy birthday to Kak Teh's anak bujang and we kids just love testing our mother's patience cause they are the only ones whom wouldn't leave us aside no matter how naughty we are :P

take care kak teh!

Anonymous said...

opps thats me, rafthah.

OOD said...

kak teh, i am not kidding around, i nangis reading this.

there was one case here not long ago when the child died after receiving the mom's liver. The child's body rejected the liver. I cried and cried. Hubby asked and i said, as a mother , it would break my heart if my child died because her body 'rejected' my liver. Hubby said, the other way of looking at it is the child's ajal has been decided. but at least she did not go alone, she carried her mom's liver with her. And i was consoled.

but as i am writing this, cant help but cry. your story is enough to bring tears, doesnt help that you put emotion in your writing!

foggy thingamajig said...

hi k teh. I'm new to your blog. just wanna tell u that i know the lady's husband who had the liver transplant. He was my former colleague. Last time I heard the daughter was doing alright considering.......