Going Beyond a Lawyer’s Call of Duty
Tien Wah - A bone marrow donor

Mr Ling Tien Wah, became a hero after he conquered his fears of bone marrow donation. As a passionate lawyer, filial son, loving husband and devoted father, being a bone marrow donor has added another dimension to his life. Find out more about Tien Wah, his family’s support and how he became the 1 in 20,000 for one lucky recipient…


Conquering his trepidation of bone marrow donation, Mr Ling Tien Wah became a beam of hope to a stranger somewhere in the world who desperately needed a transplant to survive. Already a successful lawyer, dutiful son, committed husband and proud father, Tien Wah says being the one person who could save that stranger has added a new dimension to his life.


Tien Wah joined the register in 2012, when the firm he worked in held a donor recruitment drive, aiming to find a match for a young lawyer who urgently needed a bone marrow donor. Two years later, he was surprised to get a call from the Bone Marrow Donor Programme telling him he had been matched to a patient in need.

Being able to save a person’s life is indeed noble and life giving.

- Ling Tien Wah, Donor

Initially worried that the bone marrow donation would involve an operation to extract bone marrow from his hip, his concerns were allayed when he spoke to the doctor appointed by the BMDP to take him through the harvest process in detail. He would be among the 90% of donors who undergo a Peripheral Blood Stem Cell (PBSC) harvest – an outpatient procedure similar to blood donation.


Confirmed as a match and after a thorough medical check-up to ensure he was fit to donate, Tien Wah was told that the intended recipient was not faring well, and the scheduled stem cell collection was delayed to allow the patient to recover from various complications of his illness.


Having overcome concerns for his own wellbeing, Tien Wah was now far more worried about the patient’s health. The devout Catholic began praying for the patient to be well enough to undergo the potentially life saving transplant, requesting for his fellow Catholic friends to also pray for the patient.


Their prayers were answered and the patient recovered sufficiently for Tien Wah to proceed with the stem cell collection early this year. The self-administered injections intrigued his five-year-old son who wanted to play doctor. Then with his wife by his side, the harvest took place.


Tien Wah was relaxed and calm on the day of the harvest, saying his prayers had been answered and he hoped the patient was well enough to receive the stem cells he would be donating.


From a minor inconvenience, the experience was life changing, making him more aware about people who are sick to the realisation that he was the one person who could save a life. He encourages others to sign up for the opportunity to be someone’s match.


“I have a few vocations in life,” says Tien Wah, “to be a dutiful son, a good husband, a great father and to help others if I can. Being able to save a person’s life is indeed noble and life giving.”

PUBLISHED ON 20 October 2017
Registering to become a bone marrow donor means committing to be there when you get the call to give life. Each registrant provides hope for those waiting. A person could, however, be a match within a few months of registering, a year later or even seven years later.
How to register?