18 years on donor heart

>Re­cip­i­ent thank­ful to IJN foun­da­tion for spon­sor­ing surgery


KAJANG: It has been 18 years since Al­bert Gu­narat­nam Samuel Tham­biah, 68, un­der­went a heart trans­plant at the Na­tional Heart In­sti­tute (IJN) and he is very thank­ful to his heart donor – a 22-year-old ath­lete who died due to an ac­ci­dent in 1998.

Al­bert is also thank­ful to IJN foun­da­tion for spon­sor­ing his surgery and its team of doc­tors and staff which till to­day mon­i­tors his health and pro­vides the nec­es­sary med­i­ca­tion. Ev­ery year, the foun­da­tion spends around RM4 mil­lion for needy pa­tients.

Al­bert said with­out the donor and the IJN team he would not have seen his two daugh­ters get mar­ried.

In 2015, IJN foun­da­tion pro­vided some RM3.5 mil­lion in fi­nan­cial aid to help 124 heart pa­tients un­dergo treat­ment and surg­eries.

QL Re­sources Ber­had is among the or­gan­i­sa­tions that has helped IJN foun­da­tion for the last two years with RM75,000 and RM100,000 con­tri­bu­tions, re­spec­tively.

Al­bert suf­fered a mas­sive heart at­tack on Feb 17, 1996 and doc­tors told him that his only chance of sur­vival would be a heart trans­plant.

“They gave me a drug to keep my heart pump­ing and they told me it can keep me go­ing for about six months,” he told theSun when met at his house here yes­ter­day.

Hav­ing lost weight from 82kg to 58kg, he un­der­went elec­tric shock treat­ment at a hos­pi­tal to cor­rect his ir­reg­u­lar heart beat.

The doc­tors ad­vised him to go to In­dia, in hopes of get­ting a heart trans­plant, but the Madras Med­i­cal Mis­sion in Chen­nai told him his chances of get­ting a heart re­place­ment was slim as his blood group was AB+, a rare group.

The doc­tor said only 5% of the world’s pop­u­la­tion had that blood group.

“I re­turned home and my doc­tors as­sured me that they would do their best,” he said.

He registered as a po­ten­tial re­cip­i­ent with IJN in March 1998, and two weeks later he was told a donor heart was avail­able.

“It was a Good Fri­day and at 3am I un­der­went the surgery. The pro­ce­dure be­gan at 3.15am, led by Tan Sri Yahya Awang and Datuk Dr Ah­mad Salahud­din. Af­ter that, life was won­der­ful. I had a fast re­cov­ery, although I was a di­a­betic pa­tient, my wounds healed with­out any com­pli­ca­tions. I felt great!”

His wife, Terry Nel­son, said ever since the trans­plant, Al­bert had been very care­ful about his diet and ex­er­cised reg­u­larly.

“He is so much bet­ter. He can go for long walks and there are times when I can­not keep up with him,” she laughed.


Al­bert with his wife Terry and grand­daugh­ter Chloe Josanna at home.

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