Thursday, 7 May 2015

Monk at centre of Ren Ci scandal donates kidney

Ming Yi had surgery in April to give organ to stranger
By Aw Cheng Wei, The Straits Times, 6 May 2015

THE VENERABLE Ming Yi was once famous for his daredevil stunts on television to raise funds for the charity he founded - Ren Ci Hospital.

But since his September 2010 release - after serving four months on four charges, including granting an unauthorised loan to his personal assistant - he has been keeping his good deeds low-key.

However, last week it was revealed that the 53-year-old had recently donated a kidney to a stranger, only discovering after his operation that the beneficiary was a young woman.

News broke after he applied for leave from Foo Hai Chan Monastery last month for the operation, though he had been preparing for it for 18 months.

At a press conference yesterday, the 53-year-old abbot of the temple in Geylang East said in Mandarin: "I had wanted to keep the donation quiet... but news caught on quickly."

He added that he decided to hold the conference after reporters approached him to ask for an interview when he was recovering in hospital.

Ven Ming Yi said he kept his donation quiet and "did not tell a soul until the green light was given by doctors".

"I did not want anyone to worry for me unnecessarily until I was scheduled to make the donation," he added. "I wanted to keep it low-key because it is personal."

The idea of donating his kidney came after he read in 2013 that there was a shortage of donors, with four people a day contracting kidney disease in Singapore.

After giving it a couple of days' thought, he decided to donate his left kidney.

"Initially, I was afraid that I would be a burden to those around me after the surgery," he told reporters yesterday. "But I went online to research on the procedure and found that I would be able to continue life as usual with one kidney."

He then called Singapore General Hospital and National University Hospital to find out more about the process.

He underwent "countless" medical tests, including on his liver, heart and teeth.

"The process is not as straightforward as finding a right match," he said. "But it's a relief because it shows that doctors do not take such processes lightly."

The process was also a test of his faith, but he never wavered in his determination. He has no plans to donate other organs although he has not opted out of the Human Organ Transplant Act.

Since the surgery on April 27, Ven Ming Yi said he has been "recovering well". He was discharged last Thursday. "I did not know who the beneficiary was... but my doctor said it went to a young woman," he said. "My only request is that the beneficiary can have a second chance at life."

Ven Ming Yi has been travelling to Thailand and Taiwan to give talks on Buddhism. In Singapore, he continues his duties at the monastery and helps the poor. He added: "You can call me Ming Yi, Kah Heng (his secular name), abbot, or even an ex-convict. These labels are meaningless. I don't care.

"I have to continue moving forward and not fret over what is beyond my control."

5月5日 “叫我明义好,叫我是在监狱过的人好,我觉得这些都是虚名,我并不去管这个事情,人总是要继续往前走。”七年前因涉失信仁慈医院款项的坐牢的53岁明义法师,五年来首次在媒体前公开露面。他今天在记者会上解释,为何做出捐献活体肾脏的决定。详文:
Posted by 8频道新闻新加坡 Channel 8 news on Tuesday, May 5, 2015

More live kidney donations needed

THE National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is heartened that Venerable Ming Yi donated his kidney and was inspired to do so after reading a news report which highlighted the shortage of kidney donors ("Monk at centre of Ren Ci scandal donates kidney"; Wednesday).

We applaud Ven Ming Yi for his altruistic act of kindness, as a transplant provides kidney failure patients with the best chance of long-term survival and quality of life.

It is the optimal solution to kidney failure and is the closest to a cure.

The transplanted kidney can take on almost all the functions of failed kidneys, and it usually begins to function right away, allowing the patient to lead a better quality of life with less restriction in terms of diet and time.

The NKF has been promoting kidney transplantation.

Unfortunately, there is still a shortage of donors.

In 2013, there were 424 people on the waiting list for a transplant, but only 34 cadaveric and 34 live donor kidney transplants were carried out. Many patients have waited beyond the average waiting time of nine years.

Cadaveric donations alone will not have a significant impact on the long waiting list.

We hope that more people will come forward to give others, especially loved ones, with kidney failure a new lease of life, through living donations, as Ven Ming Yi did.

To encourage this, the NKF has a Kidney Live Donor Support Programme, where financial assistance is given to needy live donors.

The funding covers the costs of annual health screenings and medical follow-ups; one-time reimbursement of hospitalisation and surgical insurance premiums; and insurance coverage for the Group Living Policy, for which we have doubled the sum insured to $200,000.

We will continue to look at ways to enhance coverage so patients can be assured that costs will not be an obstacle for the donor's long-term medical follow-up.

While kidney failure is irreversible, diabetes and hypertension, the two leading causes of kidney failure, can be prevented or controlled, if diagnosed and treated early.

Hence, apart from providing dialysis, NKF is also committed to raising awareness of kidney disease and prevention in the community.

We encourage people to take charge of their health through simple efforts, such as having a healthy diet of less sugar, less salt and less oil, as well as a more active lifestyle with a good dose of exercise and regular health checks when appropriate.

For more information, visit our website ( or call 6299-0200.

Edmund Kwok
Chief Executive Officer
National Kidney Foundation
ST Forum, 8 May 2015

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