How would you feel if your only child passed away, and you had the chance to hear her heartbeat again?
Follow Serene Lee’s journey to Penang to meet the parents of her heart donor, Carmen Mark, for the first time since the 18-year-old’s death in 2015. Please turn up the volume to watch this video.
It has been two years since Mr Mark Kok Wah, 46, and his wife Ariess Tan, 43, received the worst news any parent could hear: That their 18-year-old daughter and only child Carmen, had died. Carmen, who had been studying to be a nurse at Nanyang Polytechnic, had suffered an arterial rupture in her brain. Her organs saved four lives.
Recently, her parents, who are Malaysian and live in Penang, heard from the woman who received their daughter’s heart. On Aug 4 this year, the recipient – Ms Serene Lee, 37, messaged Mr Mark on Facebook, introducing herself and asking if she could visit them.
Although the name of recipients is kept anonymous, Ms Lee had connected the dots and tracked the couple down after reading about Carmen’s death in The Straits Times. The reunion will take place in Penang on Friday (Sept 15), and The Straits Times will be making the journey to the Malaysian state with Ms Lee, a Singaporean.
Before she received Carmen’s heart, Ms Lee, a part-time clinic assistant who is married with three children aged between seven and 14, had no heartbeat of her own. Her heart was fully powered instead by a mechanical pump that ran on a set of external batteries that has to be recharged every 12 hours. She suffered from dilated cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle which causes a weakening of the heart such that it is unable to pump blood efficiently. This condition often leads to heart failure.