Monday, August 25, 2014

Putting our gratitude into action for a truly life-saving act.

Much as I would like to make this weekly entry of my blog page one that has a topic or teaching point that is not about me or one that is mainly revelatory about myself, causing this to be mistaken as a blog with an exhibitionistic nature, I do find that there are times and events of my own life that when revealed and shared on a relevant platform, could hopefully end up benefitting my readers than if I were to merely keep them to myself.  This is perhaps one such entry, and I beg the pardon of those who think this may be a bit over indulgent on my part. 

Our journeys in life invariably involve quite often, the meeting or encounter with another significant human being which affects one’s life either positively or negatively.  The social media is replete with acrimonious examples and stories of people who have caused anguish, melancholy, anxiety and grief in the lives of others.  By putting such stories on ‘grand display’, many bear the secret hope that those reading will sympathize with them and feel their seething anger.  The other hope would be that they would also garner some supporters along the way, making them fellow ‘haters’ of a now shared common ‘enemy’.  It often further promotes the false security of our side being the ‘right’ or ‘good’ side, and our interlocutors being the ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ one. 

I do believe that part of our task in this world as Christ’s light bearers is to do just the opposite when we have the opportunity to, especially when our stories and encounters bring much needed hope to a suffering humanity, which sometimes seems so devoid of true stories of charity, generosity, patience, hope and selfless love.  My blog entry this week will highlight that these wonderfully Christ-like values have been encountered by me in one such person, and that his act of valour and courage needs to be recorded for various reasons.  He has a name, and his name (yes, his real name) is Peter.

After more than a year since my life-saving stem cell transplant, the rules protecting the anonymity of donor and recipient become abrogated.  The donor and the recipient can sign forms that formally allow our contact details to be released to each other, giving them the freedom and opportunity to contact one another if they so wish.  I signed this form after July 25 this year, and was waiting to see if my donor would do the same.  It was with great delight that I received a lengthy email just two days ago from this significant human being who God had placed in my life, as Randy Goodrum wrote in his song “You needed me”, to “give me hope when life was at the end”. 

I shall not reveal much about Peter and his personal details here, to protect and preserve his privacy.  But his act of remarkable selflessness deserves, I believe, a public act of gratitude simply because mere thanks coming from me doesn’t quite show the impact that such a wonderful gesture of kindness creates in the world of the recipient of such Christ-like altruism.  These ripples of love and waves of life that have emitted from a seeming small act of giving something so needed by another human being spread far and wide, and it is through his act of kindness that many of you, my readers have seen grace working powerfully in my life.  This act of kindness has been instrumental in giving my life a much hoped-for extension, and for giving me back to my family, my community and to those I serve.

To save a friend’s life is wonderful and noble.  I have no doubt that anyone seeing a friend or relative needing something of his or her own (like a stem cell donation) would go through the discomfort and inconvenience of such a procedure.  When I needed the perfect match for my cancer-filled marrow to be replaced by a healthy one, many parishioners wanted to be that match, but nature doesn’t allow us to make the decisions.  Many seemed to have the ‘condition’ that if they did this, they wanted to choose who it was that would be the beneficiary of their giving.  But stem cells do not work this way. 

In God’s ‘inscrutable’ ways, this can only be possible if donor and recipient’s Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) markers match perfectly.  In short, it is what we have inherently given by nature (like our DNA) that determines if we have what it takes to save the life of another person.  There are altogether about 2,500 HLA markers that make up a person’s HLA type.  To be a suitable (or perfect) match, only 10 of the most important markers need to match, risking great rejection issues for the recipient if just one of these fail to match.  My search for a suitable match was brought to an international level when the local register failed to find this match.  It was finally found half a world away in Peter, who became significantly, my lifesaver. 

To do this for a total stranger whom one may never know is a grand gesture of benevolence, which literally means ‘good willingness’ of another human being.  Receiving thanks from me alone would be expected, as I often say that gratitude has to form the very basis of our being able to live in any state of grace, as both gratitude and grace stem from the same root, linguistically and fundamentally. 

Peter’s story is remarkable for various reasons, one of which is that it is living proof that just because one has done a good and kind deed, that it does not mean that all things in life henceforth would be without challenges and further trials.  Not long after he had donated his stem cells to me, his family suffered a crisis of sorts, where his own child became sick, and his doctors simply could not find out what it was that was plaguing the child.  The family entered into a time of darkness and agony but they knew that they had to depend on the mercy and love of God to see them through.  Thankfully, after about two months, this child of his has since made a full recovery. 

There are many different motives for people to do the things that they do.  What touched me very much about Peter's story is that he revealed to me how he lost his childhood friend to Leukaemia in their teenage years.  The two of them had run in relay races, and passed the baton to one another as part of their routine.  When Peter received notice that there was a stem cell donation needed from someone for whom he was a possible match, memories of his friend came to mind.  While it must have been terrible and tragic to have lost a friend when one was in one's formative years, it does seem that even an event as dark and bleak as this does have an unexpected bright side.  It motivated and moved Peter to put aside any discomfort or inconvenience on his part in the harvesting and donation process, and put the needs of another human being in front of his.  In his saving act, Peter has also handed me the baton to allow me to continue my run in life.  

I have written much and reflected upon the challenges of living a Christ-like life since I began this weekly blog five years ago.  I do not ask much of my readers, and haven’t made personal requests.  I appreciate and treasure each comment that is written as it shows that you are not merely passive readers.  You are participating in my life.  But I make an exception this week.  For those of you who are as grateful as I am for having my life given back, to receive another chance at living life, to continue to walk in the love and grace of God, please write something that expresses this gratitude to Peter.  My words of thanks may show my personal gratitude, but I believe he and his family, and many other potential lifesavers would benefit from seeing a similar gratitude to Peter.  His act of compassion and magnanimity has given me back to you, and you will never know how far your words of gratitude will touch his life and the life of others.  His community will definitely benefit from this gesture of affirmation coming from strangers who he has touched with his giving.

There is too much wastage of good ice and water being thrown over peoples’ heads these days to show support for a good cause.  Perhaps it is time to cover now a total stranger with something far better and more loving – take a moment and please make that effort to cover Peter and his loving family with some words of thanks together with me. 

Peter, from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you and have you know that you are greatly loved not just by me, but my many others because of your act of kindness and selfless generosity.  Thank you for being Christ to one who was on the cross. 

Perhaps listening to this song reminds us of how we do need one another in life.


  1. Peter, thank u for showing us what selfless love is to a stranger. U n your family have stepped beyond your comfort zone to give life to a stranger. GOD bless u and your loved ones.

  2. Thank you Peter for being so generous to a stranger, and being an inspiration and bringing hope to all in need. May God continue to bless you and your family.

  3. Romans 1:8
    First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.

    To thank someone for kind gestures and deeds is easy but to thank someone for the gift of life, no word seems adequate. Thank you Peter for your act of love, given so selflessly, for being such a blessing to Fr Luke and thus to all of us, for allowing God’s healing hands to work through you.
    May you and your family be greatly blessed too.

  4. Peter We are so grateful for your love and generosity to our beloved priest Father Luke Fong.
    We can never thank you enough. The Lord bless you and all your loved ones with His choicest blessings
    of love, joy and peace.

  5. Dear frLuke, Pope (Emeritus) Benedict XVI once said "technology is put in our hands to announce the Gospel..". So yes, stamp out the fear of this "exhibitionistic nature" thinggy and praise God as He deserves.

    And dear Peter, if you are reading father's blog, i thank the Lord for you and your family, and your generosity, your faith. With Christ's love


  6. Dear Peter. Wow! we now know who this mighty stranger is from half way round the world, who so courageously and generously aided the recovery of Fr Luke from his medical condition. The Catholic community in Singapore is grateful for your selfless act. May the good Lord continue to bless you and your loved ones. Pauline

  7. Love not through words... but action.
    Amen, Peter.


  8. On behalf of the BMDP team, thank you for sharing the days and months of your transplant journey with so many people through your blog and for bringing awareness to our cause.

    Bone Marrow donors are ordinary people who make a commitment to stand forward when given the opportunity and thereby save the life of another individual - a remarkable gift of courage and generosity and one that exemplifies the very best of the human spirit.

    In Singapore we battle every day the misconceptions and prejudices about this act - described by so many donors as "no big deal" but as Father Luke's story has demonstrated, it is indeed a big deal... a life-saving deal and so thank you to Peter for being among these extraordinary individuals and coming forward.

    Through reading this article and learning more about what it all means, I hope that more people will come forward and help us in our mission to save more lives.

    In friendship,

  9. Dear Peter, thank you for your selfless and courageous sacrifice of going through what I believe was no small discomfort and inconvenience to give Fr Luke Fong a new lease of life so that he can continue to serve God in his calling.

    God willing, the impact of what you have done will be felt by many for years to come as Fr Luke continues to witness and preach for God.

    May God bless you and your family with all the graces that only He can bestow.

  10. Dear Peter,

    Thank you for your generous gesture. May you be blessed a hundredfold. We heard it is painful for the giver and the receiver. Both so courageous....and we the people around get to benefit from all the graces that fill this kind act. God bless.

    For your information, Fr Luke has touched many of us by his sincerity and placing what happens in the secular world right smack is each of his homily which each of us get to take home and talk about....

    Just imagine, a temp staff who is a Filipina goes to IMH with her Mum and always make a point to go early so that she can sit up infront when its Fr Luke's turn to preach. Another temp staff who seems arrogant in his ways also find that Fr Luke's bring a punch to each of his homily and also makes it a point to attend mass so that he can hear this amazing priest celebrate mass so beautifully.

    So you see, Peter...more of us around will benefit from your generous act....isn't that a hundredfold already....

    God love you....

    Mat from OLSS.

  11. “These ripples of love and waves of life that have emitted from a seeming small act of giving something so needed by another human being spread far and wide, and it is through his act of kindness that ............................have seen grace working powerfully in my life. “

    This reminds me of what the Dalai Lama said, “Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.” And so it is with Peter’s choice to donate his stem cells........a seemingly simple action.......yet so many lessons to be learnt.

    When Fr Luke celebrated Sunday mass recently, most of us who were there, could not help but marvel at this miracle. We know that - “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17) Yet we also know that God works his miracles through ‘earthly angels.’ So whilst listening to Fr Luke’s homily (oddly reminiscent of his witty old self) we were also silently praising and thanking the Divine Healer and mouthing a prayer in profound gratitude for the (as yet unknown) stem-cell donor. Now we know his name. Thank you Peter for your act of love.

    No words can express our appreciation and deep sense of joy that one of our shepherds is given a new lease of life and God-willing, in turn will be able to minister to many in need in the not so distant future. We are again reminded that actually – each one of us is God’s miracle, so we are precious. Life is good..........we need to live it gently, yet with fire ........but always with hope....for there is much wonder here.

    God bless you, Fr.


  12. Thanks a million, Peter for your magnaminous act! God love and bless you and your family always!

  13. Dear Peter, I'd like you to know that your great act of love has brought us hope and joy when there was fear and despair. How precious it is to be able participate in Father Luke's celebration of mass and hear him preach in his inimitable style again when just over a year ago, the situation seemed so dire. Thank you for your love and kindness towards a stranger(then) and those who cared about him. You are indeed a gift from our Heavenly Father. May God bless you and your family always.

  14. PETERRRRRRR!!!!! I SO WANT TO GIVE YOU A HUG!!!!! (but i might drown you in tears.... tears of JOY!!) THANK YOU FOR BEING SO AWESOME!!!!!!!!

    I remember there was one weekend, I was having a terrible migraine that i had to lie in bed and it felt as if my brains were going to explode. and i remembered someone told me.. 'offer up your pain as a prayer for someone else...' so i told God.... 'okay.... i am going to wrap up this prayer for Fr Luke to find a donor with a gift wrapper made out of the pain from my migraine... so pleaseeeeee....... before it explodes.... FIND HIM!!!' and 2 weeks later, Fr Luke told me that 'WE FOUND SOMEONE!!!'
    AND THAT'S YOU!!!!!

    SO YAY!!!! Praise the Lord for migraines and PRAISE THE LORD FOR YOU!!!
    My family and I are ever so grateful and will keep you and your family in our prayers.
    Hope to see you in Singapore soon!


  15. Dear Peter,

    2 weeks ago, after Mass, Fr Luke encouraged the congregation to sign up for the BMDP & mentioned that as a beneficiary, he will forever be grateful to his anonymous stem cell donor. From this blog, I can sense how appreciative and thrilled Fr Luke is that you give him the chance to thank you personally for so selflessly giving him a new lease of life! I can't help but try to visualise the great joy I will experience when Christ, my awesome benefactor, reveals himself to me in the next life. Thank you Peter for allowing us to see Christ in you!

    I was teary-eyed when I read how the memory of the loss of your dear childhood friend motivated you to donate your stem cells to Fr Luke. As for myself some total strangers' "grand gesture of benevolence' saved my life many years ago and I'm thankful to God for making me healthy enough to be a regular blood donor to pay back my 'blood debts' and to "put my gratitude into action for a truly life-saving act".

    Peter, may God bless you & your family abundantly. Love you ........

  16. Fr Luke, thanks for introducing us to Peter and sharing how you feel from deep down. How can you say you're an exhibitionist when we are so privileged to be in this frame of trust and confidence and respect for life.

    Peter is really someone we love and revere. And we pray for him and his family and that he'll be specially blessed and continue to be fulfilled in touching the lives of others.

    Ignatius & Florence

  17. Thank you Peter for saving Fr Luke. You are truly a wonderful person and we will always remember you for your kindness and generosity. May God bless you and your family abundantly. Thank you once again.

  18. Dear Peter,

    I am not sure if you are a Christian or even believe in God for the matter of fact. But I would like you to know with gratitude that you have been our answered prayer for Fr. Luke. You have given a new lease of life to someone who had been instrumental in inspiring many lives, and now able to continue to do so. ;)

    Thank you, thank you Peter. Thank you for you and your family’s exemplary of selfless generosity in saying ‘Yes’ to another in need, despite the sacrifices you all had to make. Unexpected act of kindness at desperate moments are truly what profoundly touches our hearts, oftentimes urges and inspire us to do the same, to want to pay it forward.

    Thank You for continuing this rippling of blessings, thereby inspiring manifold blessings to come. (Hopefully an avalanche size ;) - with God’s grace.)

    You and your family (with a name now) will be in my prayers of thanksgiving and prayers for all your well beings.

    May God’s blessings and graces (all good things) be with you and family always.

  19. Peter, what a wonderful name - the name of the one whom Jesus build his Church upon. It is so apt that you should be Fr Luke's life saver. Nothing happens by coincidence and God, being the author of our lives, has brought you two together.

    May our awesome God continue to work His miracles in both your lives. This is a testimony that nothing is impossible with God. Praise the Lord for his love and mercy.

    Peter, thank you for your courage, compassion and commitment to the BMDP cause. May God bless you and your family abundantly.

    God bless, pavam.

  20. Dear Peter,

    I have never been overly impressed with a so-called “hero” who rescues a child from a burning building or someone who goes out of his way to help an accident victim. Probably my bias attitude stems from the fact that it is a “natural thing to do” (although I know it is not). However to donate one's bone marrow is NOT a natural 'thing to do especially for someone you don't know.

    Upon learning about the processes involved in being a stem-cell donor, I thought to myself “Why would anyone go through pain, discomfort, miss work and many other inconveniences to donate his/her bone marrow for someone whom he would probably never know. To me THAT is truly heroic. No headlines, no praise and no ego inflating reward whatsoever. To know that extraordinary people like you do exist is truly inspiring. For that great Christ-like gesture, I sincerely want to thank you for your life-giving act that can only be rewarded in the next life. No wonder you are called the Rock.

    God bless, mike

  21. HI Peter, thanks for your generous gesture. Your single action
    - is a source of inspiration to your family and friends,
    - has saved a stranger's life
    - touched the hearts of our community
    - touched the hearts of others who interact with our community
    isn't that awesome =)

  22. Thank you immensely, Peter.

    (I guess I represent the hundreds who read Fr Luke's blog and want to thank you but can't write fluently, and are saying "thank you immensely, Peter" in their hearts. Perhaps this will encourage them to just write "thank you" on this blog.)

  23. Dear Peter - Thank you.

  24. God is GREAT! And so are you, Peter!!!

    God is LOVE. And so, too, will you be greatly loved by all, Peter!!!

    God bless you and your family always!!!!

  25. Hi Peter thank you tremendously for expressing your Love for God in deed.May the Good Lord shower you and family with abundant grace!!!:)
    Dear Fr Luke thank you for this blog.God bless.

  26. My Heartfelt thanks to Peter and also those like him who selflessly give of themselves quietly, and without fanfare. Your act of kindness is the very manifestation of God’s love, working in and through the human person. Actions done with love are always life-giving; and in Fr. Luke’s case, literally so! May God bless you and your loved ones always.

  27. Dear Peter,
    Rev Fr Luke is a family friend. In fact, he is the godpa to our 4 year old daughter.
    We have been journeying with him since the days he had fever that didn’t go away, the diagnosis that he had leukemia, the numerous chemotherapy sessions, the bone marrow taps, the disappointment when the first potential match was himself, and when the second potential match would not go for more tests.
    When you came along as a potential match, we had been praying fervently that this anonymous donor will have the courage to go through the various tests, and if proven to be a match, to have the gumption to go through the discomfort and inconvenience of having some of your stem cells removed. We can only imagine that it took a certain mental steadfastness, a very kind and gentle heart and an immense amount of faith to want to do this.
    So, here we are. We came to know who you are after one year. Thank you very much, Peter! Your life-giving gesture meant a lot to Fr Luke, and to the many around him. His family, his friends, and his flock are ever so grateful. As friends witnessing his road to recovery in the past year, we are overjoyed – a joy that is hard to put into words. His godda didn’t know what was happening but she was sad whenever she saw her bald and weak and masked godpa. Now, she is extremely happy because godpa can follow her to the playground and read stories from his iPad. Godpa, on the other hand, can’t wait to teach her catechism! You just can’t take the priest out of him…
    Peter, once again, please allow us to thank you for this noble act. Your wanting to remember a friend has saved a “stranger”. What a great act of love.

    Nicholas & Sharon

  28. Dear Peter, thank you for your selfless, generous and courageous act. You are truly the 'Good Samaritan' who has come to help Father Luke. May God bless you and your family!

  29. Thanks be to God!
    Thank you Peter for saying yes to God's call.
    Thank you Fr Luke for this blog.
    Thank you all for letting Christ's light burn bright.

  30. Thank you Peter for your courage and gift of hope and life. Thank you to Peter's family for supporting his decision. Thank you Fr Luke for being a true witness of Christ. Praise The Lord for all of you! God bless you all!
    Sue Clare

  31. Thank you Heavenly Father for Fr. Luke n Peter,through them it has given us so much love for one another.Jesus love for us all.
    Thank you Peter,God bless you & your family.
    Thank you Fr.Luke for all your sharings.God bless.