A not-so-short walk along Sungei Serangoon

On Labour day, the kids’ pre-school organised a morning walk for families to get together. This should be fun, if our kids survive the 5km haha !

We start with a bang, as balloons float away and the occasional explosion, all the families gathered at the start line. We told the kids just follow the blue balloons.

Heng family’s Denver and Gladys were with us too.

..bringing our blue balloons into the green foliage of Punggol Park. Oh, are you aware Punggol park is not in Punggol?

We walk, and we walk and we walk, for a whole 5km ! There was minimum shelter along Sungei Serangoon, please bring your cap along.

Kids keep asking “Are we there yet” ?

We are only halfway to 1/2 way point (at Punggol Promenade), and kids are getting impatient and tired.

We took another 30min to reach 1/2 way point. Butterflies and dragonflies accompany us along the way. There were so many creepy caterpillars on the floor !

Ice cream and refreshment await participants at the 1/2 way point. Everyone is either tanned or melting from the sun.

5km for adults might take 30min to complete, but it took us 3 hours with three stops.
Xin and Yi kept grumbling under the hot sun, and we have to take turn to carry our girl.

They still make it to the end point, so Proud of the kids. Even Daddy had to keep his camera on the return trip, too tired.

Did you know an otter family of seven resides in Sungei Serangoon? Our friend, Peter, mention the otters usually come out after 4pm, it must be an awesome sight to watch them cruising down the river.
(photo courtesy from http://cartoon-pete.tripod.com)

At the end point, we just love bubbles, especially when Wei and Kang keep sticking the bubbles onto Xin and Yi’s hair !

It does not matter even if the younger ones cannot blow a proper bubble, as long as they have fun.

Daddy promise to bring the kids to cycle along Sungei Serangoon soon.
This stretch is highly recommended for families acitivities 🙂

Punggol promenade is a little enclave at Punggol, beside F&B outlets, it provides respite for nearby residents. Daddy did some night shots along Sungei Serangoon last year, love the iconic bridge too.

Additional information and photos :
BPDG blog (Heng family)
– we have more than 5km of photos to dazzle you, drop by our album

I am a Bone Marrow donor

What can $580,000 buy you in Singapore?
Apartment, car, holiday, maybe happiness?

What if I tell you this donation can buy HOPE?

Last week, I attended a media event to raise awareness for Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP). For someone stricken with blood disorders like leukemia or lymphoma, sometimes the only cure is a direct bone marrow transplant. $580,000 means tissue typing is available for almost 4,000 potential marrow donors.

We honour the brave donors from left Sharlini , Chin Sheng, and Dr Yvonne.

And we pay compliments to the gala committee for raising fund for BMDP.

Who is BMDP?
Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP) is an organisation which provides a life line for those affected by blood disorder. Headed by Jane Prior (President), I quote “BMDP is in the Business of Miracles“. BMDP match patients to potential bone marrow donors, globally.

Currently, Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP) has a registry of 50,000 volunteers, and BMDP hopes to get 5,000 potential donors for 2012.
More volunteers, more chances of finding a match.

Watch this video to understand more about bone marrow Harvesting and Transplant

I am not a doctor, but you can get most of the medical definitions translated to English at BMDP’s Glossary page –> http://www.bmdp.org/glossary.php#b


Why would you want to be a bone marrow donor?

What happen if we are struck with disease, and the doctor give us an “expiry” date of months or years. How would we feel? It will be depressing because a child will lose his adulthood, or a parent will lose the opportunity to watch his kids grow up.

As Gerti mentioned, Leukemia does not distinguish it’s victim. It strikes anybody, the young, the old, the fit, the poor and the rich. It is especially heart aching when young kids are affected. Kids who should be enjoying the great outdoors or studying, but are instead confined in hospital wards 🙁

From young, my Mum has urged me to be a useful person (做好人). If we have the opportunity to help or save someone, would you volunteer yourself ?

How can you register as a donor?

1. Contact BMDP
2. Get your DNA sample via a buccal swab (photo of pretty model above)
3. Your DNA sample undergoes tissue-typing and your name will be registered with BMDP

Three simple steps, and I quote BMDP :
“To the world, you are one person, but to the person that you help, you are the ONE.


How is bone marrow extracted from the donor?

There are two methods of extracting bone marrow from a donor.
– Direct extraction from the pelvic area, via GA (general anaesthesia)
– Peripheral blood stem cell, just like normal blood donation

We heard only 5% of marrow is extracted, and our body will replendish the bone marrow within days. For option (i), there might be a bit of discomfort (numbness) around the pelvic area, but a donor is likely to get back to his usual exercise routine within weeks.


My donor experience

In 2002, my bone marrow recipient was a young boy, let us call him M.
He is from Malaysia PJ.

[Potential donor and recipient cannot meet each other until one year after transplant]
I secretly heard from the ward nurses that he was just like any other bubbly kids, 13 years old, full of life and energy. M was a brave and cheerful chap.

I just got married ten years ago, and perhaps I could not understand the parents’ anguish back then. But after becoming a parent myself, you hope no child has to undergo all the needles and chemo treatments 🙁

[Perhaps that is the reason why it takes me ten long years to tell my story now.]
I met M and his family one year after his transplant. He looks healthy, and I was truly happy that I have given someone a second chance. Alas M suffers a relapse, and succumb to his illness. I felt sad, and maybe guilt, that my bone marrow could not save M.

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In our own small way, we can make a difference.
Although M is no longer with us today, we take heart that he went down fighting and did not want to give up. I really hope donors will have the power to give HOPE and a second chance to a patient.

For donors who are concerned about possible side effects of being a donor, I offer the analogy of child birth to describe my experience. I was present during all my kids’ delivery, and I am still in awe of how my wife (and all mothers) withstand the pain to deliver our babies.

… the minimal discomfort we experienced from a direct pelvic marrow extraction is No where near our women’s sacrifices.

If you need more information on the procedures, or if you have more doubts, I am sure team BMDP will be glad to answer your queries. Let no needles, nor myths, or the scary “unknown” stop you from making the right choice.

Someone mention a possible loss of vitality, but hey, look at me, a happy father with four active kids. I feel younger each day. There is nothing more rewarding than to be given the opportunity to save a life.

We can, and we should raise more awareness about bone marrow transplant. Let more people step forward, let HOPE shines brighter.

sincerely yours,
Andy Lee

ps.. Daddy is sharing more info about BMDP (FAQ and Procedures) and Bone Marrow story at this page

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Additional information
Photo credits to BMDP fanpage

You an reach BMDP at their blog or fanpage.
– More questions? Refer BMDP’s FAQ.