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Eager to hear their late daughter's heartbeat

Wednesday, September 13, 2017
The Star/ANN


GEORGE TOWN, Malaysia -

The sound of their daughter's heartbeat is all Mark Kok Wah and his wife Ariess Tan have longed to hear since their only child died two years ago at 18.

Their wish will soon come true when Serene Lee, 37, a part-time clinic assistant from Singapore visits them on Friday. Lee is the recipient of their daughter Carmen's heart. Mark, a 46-year-old building contractor, and Tan, 43, will meet Lee in Komtar on Friday.

Mark said meeting Lee would be exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. “This meeting will be an emotional one,” he said at their home in Taman Hutchings here yesterday. Mark could not hold back his tears as he showed reporters farewell messages to Carmen, written by relatives and friends at her wake two years ago, as well as a handmade thank-you card from Lee's children.

Mark added that there are also plans for Lee to visit the spot where his daughter's ashes were scattered near the second Penang Bridge as well as a meeting with his (Mark's) mother, who he said had been against his decision to donate Carmen's organs. He said he received a Facebook message from Lee in August, expressing her intention to visit them.

“She introduced herself as the recipient of my daughter's heart and said she would fly to Penang to let us hear Carmen's heartbeat. She said she wanted to continue with Carmen's legacy at the National Heart Centre Singapore, where she (Carmen) was supposed to be posted upon graduation. Lee is the chairperson of the heart patients support group at the centre,” he said.

Mark reportedly said in October last year that his daughter's ambition since she was a little girl was to be a nurse. Carmen, a former student of Penang Chinese Girls' High School, worked towards that dream and secured a nursing scholarship at Nanyang Polytechnic in Singapore. Her joy was, however, short-lived when she fell into a coma in July 2015 following an arterial rupture in her brain, and died three weeks later.

Part of Lee's message read: “Dear Mr Mark, firstly, I am sorry that I have been looking at your Facebook posts since August 2015. And twice you posted that you wish to hear your daughter's heartbeat. “I will fly over to Penang to let you hear. Yes I am Serene, the heart recipient from Carmen, your daughter. It made me cry to see how much you miss her.”

Tan said she, Mark and Lee have been in contact through a WhatsApp group. “It was really heart-warming when Serene would send us greetings and refer to us as 'Daddy Mark' and 'Mummy Ariess',” she added.

At a press conference earlier, state executive councillor Phee Boon Poh said a “Gift of Life” event is scheduled to take place at 3pm on Friday at Komtar, where Mark, Tan and Lee will meet.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng is also expected to be present.

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