Yhank you: Mak handing over a plaque as a token of appreciation to Lai as Teng looks on in Malacca.
MALACCA: At 28, Lai Mee Yee has donated 60% of her liver to a stranger and now she has decided to quit her IT job to become a social worker.
As a full-time volunteer at a Buddhist temple in Selangor where she signed up last month, she would only be paid a token from devotees.
“Life is short. Look around us. Tragedies like MH17 claimed the lives of the young and old,” she said.
“All of us are vulnerable to illnesses and tragedies, regardless of our age. This has made me realise that time is passing quickly and it is better to start doing good,” she said in an interview during a dinner on Saturday.
The dinner was arranged by St Francis Institution’s (SFI) Parent-Teachers Association chairman Mak Chee Kin as appreciation to Lai for her priceless gift to Teng Cyun Shen, 16.
The SFI and PTA had organised a donation drive which received overwhelming response from people who wanted to help the teenager.
Lai made headlines in February for donating 60% of her liver to Teng, who was suffering from end-stage Caroli disease, a rare congenital disorder, and given a prognosis of just a few months to live.
Lai, who previously earned about RM3,000 monthly from her IT job, said that her family and friends had initially objected to her decision to donate her liver to a stranger.
“But I told them that they were entitled to their opinion,” said Lai, who has two siblings.
She found out about the boy’s plight through social media and was moved by a photograph of him lying helplessly in bed.
The surgery took place at Singapore’s National University Hospital earlier this year after her organ matched Teng’s medical requirements.
Seeing Teng in a joyful mood after recuperating from the surgery spurred Lai to give up material pursuits and become a full-time social worker.
“I told myself, ‘Let’s do good. And stop looking for a life partner’,” she said.
Lai will leave for Taiwan next year to learn more about Buddhism before joining a monastery here to help others.
Teng has since expressed his gratitude to Lai.