Alden Boon

Altruistic Donor Lin Dilun “Loses” a Kidney but Gains a Second Family


In screenwriting, the superhero-saves-the-cat trope is one that raises the ire of professional readers. But at one point in his life, that was Lin Dilun’s everyday routine. As a Singapore Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) officer, he would answer calls to complaints of animal abuse. Saving animals trapped on precarious ledges was his call of duty.

Another ingredient of a superhero’s story? Complicated childhood. Checked once again for Dilun. “I was very young when my parents separated, and that probably made me more independent as I was left to my own devices.”

All through secondary school, Dilun was a member of the National Police Cadet Corps. It was then teamwork and discipline were inculcated in him. And he became privy to the life lesson that the world does not revolve around him. “It’s important for us to find our own place in this great big world we live in.”

Perhaps his biggest feat ever, one that dwarves the collective karmic good of many, was donating his kidney to Bryan Liu. A boy with whom Dilun has no blood relations. A boy whose face he only gazed upon in person two days after the life-altering transplant.

Only 27 was Dilun — and Bryan six — when he “needlessly” opted to go under the knife in 2012. He first knew of the boy’s plight on 14 June 2010 after chancing upon a story featured in The New Paper. Bryan was born with only one kidney, which was abnormal. His mother, Madam Serene Ng, donated her own kidney to him when he was two years old, but a rare viral condition meant that it had to be removed.

By the time Bryan turned three, he was living with no kidneys and had to be on dialysis 10 hours a day. He also had to consume a cocktail of medications as well as receive growth hormone therapy.

Initially, Dilun did not give the story a serious thought. But something stirred in him when he read The New Paper’s follow-up report that none of the 25 Samaritans who stepped forward and pledged their kidneys was a suitable candidate. Dilun realised he shares the same blood type — O+— as Bryan. Perhaps it was a cosmic connection, as he has a half-sister about Bryan’s age, that spurred him to touch base with the family. He did so via the dedication page on Facebook titled “A Kidney for Bryan, A Gift of Life”.

The heft of his decision soon became palpable when he was put through a slew of tests. Dilun’s first interview was held at National University Hospital’s kidney transplant office, and he went home armed with a 27-page literature with information on living kidney donation. Thereafter, a laborious journey of medical test after medical test as well as psychiatric assessments ensued.

“Most of the interviews centred on ensuring there was ‘informed consent’. As all good doctors will say, ‘First, do no harm.’ The medical team’s utmost priority was to ensure there was no long-term impact on my health and that I knew what I was signing up for.” He did. Dilun admits his body has taken a beating over the years and he wears his surgical scars like a badge of honour. “I’ve been through many surgeries before for broken bones and whatnot, and I know there are some risks involved with any procedure, be it minor or major.”

Read: Nazri Mohayadin’s Emotional Journey of Losing 40kg

While he was given the all clear on both physical and mental health aspects, hesitance came from one person — Madam Serene Neo, his mother. “Initially she urged me not to do it, out of concern for my own health. Eventually she came around, and backed my decision. At that point in time I could afford to give Bryan a kidney and save his life. That’s all that mattered. With assurance from the medical team that my health would be closely monitored, and the surgery was a low-risk one, it became a pretty easy decision to make.”

Encouragement also came from his pillars of support: the ones he counts his closest friends. He did not publicise his decision, a behaviour somewhat incongruous with today’s social-media-obsessed proclivities. Later in 2012, he came forward with the story as he wanted to raise awareness about living organ donation, even if it meant risking his personal privacy.

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We are all on this world to help one another.
As Ellen DeGeneres would say, ‘Be kind to one another.’

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Alden Boon
Alden Boon is a Quarter-finalist in PAGE International Screenwriting Awards. When he's not busy writing, he pretends he is Gandalf.