Natalie gets a new lease of life

Lim (seated) with Natalie after the successful liver transplant surgery by Dr Yoong (centre, in pale pink shirt) and a team of 30 medical experts and staff at UMMC. With them are representatives from Star Foundation and CCEP Foundation.

LIFE is certainly looking brighter for Natalie Soo Lok Min, who underwent a successful liver transplant, thanks to generous Malaysians who donated to her through Star Foundation’s Medical Fund programme.

Eight-year-old Natalie, who was suffering from biliary atresia with decompensated liver disease, needed a liver transplant to avoid further deterioration of her condition and for her to lead a normal, healthy life.

Unable to afford the high cost of the transplant, Natalie’s family had sought help from Star Foundation and Community Care Enrichment Programme (CCEP) Foundation to support their case.

The two social organisations then came together to help raise funds for Natalie’s liver transplant at University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) in Kuala Lumpur.

Natalie’s mother Lim Jia Hui, who donated part of her liver to her daughter, was extremely grateful for the help received and the success of the surgery.

“No words can express how happy I am now,” said the 33-year-old who kept repeating the word “happy” during a recent visit by Star Foundation to the hospital.

During the visit, Lim also shared her condition after undergoing the surgery.

“So far, I do not feel any pain. I had trouble sleeping initially but now I can sleep better,” she said.

Having to raise four children on her own, the single mother, who is a food hawker, went straight back to work a few days after the surgery.

“I can work as usual but I should avoid carrying heavy items as advised by the doctor.”

Three weeks after the surgery, Lim said Natalie had shown good progress.

“She looks healthier now and is active as usual.”

Lim also said she would ensure Natalie was stable before allowing her to go back to school.

Besides having to regularly take medications provided by the hospital, Natalie has to carry out light breathing exercises to aid in her recovery process.

“Thank you to the public for donating to my daughter’s surgery.

“Without your kind help, the surgery would not have taken place. Thank you, thank you, thank you,” said a very appreciative Lim.

Following the transplant, Natalie is required to go for follow-up appointments at UMMC every week, but the gap would gradually increase between the appointments.

Associate Professor Dr Yoong Boon Koon, the hepatopancreaticobiliary consultant and liver transplantation surgeon of UMMC, said the surgery was very complex.

“The surgery involved a lot of teamwork. It took around 16 hours involving more than 30 medical experts and staff.

“Natalie was monitored closely in the ICU for almost two weeks. Once she was stable, she was transferred to the normal ward and allowed to go home after a week,” said Dr Yoong.

In the first few months, Natalie will need to take some antibiotics. She will also need to take immunosuppressants for life.

“We wish to thank all the contributors who have donated for this surgery. Without the donation, I don’t think we can proceed to help Natalie. The cost of the transplant is high.

“The hospital is very supportive in working out on the logistics aspect and providing the human resources, but we need the public’s help with the medical cost,” added Dr Yoong during the interview.

Established in 2004, Star Foundation is the charitable arm of Star Media Group aimed at delivering meaningful initiatives with lasting outcomes to a diverse group of beneficiaries.

The Medical Fund Programme was initiated in 2015 to sponsor one-off medical treatment and care for underprivileged individuals with chronic illnesses.

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