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Boy, 7, dies of cancer: Parents bring his photo on board cruise ship to fulfil his dream

It had been a dream of his to experience a cruise for the first time, but seven-year-old cancer patient Wu Hongchang died before he had the opportunity.

On Aug 28, however, thanks to the sponsorship of a generous donor, his parents and elder sister boarded a cruise ship for a holiday, carrying along a framed photograph of Wu that was used in his obituary.

According to Shin Min Daily News on Saturday (Sept 9), Wu had battled cancer for four years, after being diagnosed with a condition known as acute lymphoblastic leukaemia at the age of three.

In 2021, the boy and his family travelled to Singapore's National University Hospital from Malaysia, after learning about the chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy treatment that could fight the cancer.

Wu was able to receive a bone marrow transplant from his father last June, but suffered a relapse in December 2022, Shin Min reported.

The boy's condition worsened in July this year, when a bacterial infection ended up affecting his lung function. His condition was made worse with the lack of immunity protection due to the cancer treatment.

Wu's parents celebrated his seventh birthday on July 25, but just two days later, they made the painful decision to take their son off life support, reported Shin Min. He was suffering from cerebral hypoxia, a condition where the brain is unable to receive sufficient oxygen.

Indonesian tycoon part of Giving Pledge

In an earlier report by the Chinese evening daily, Wu's father had revealed his son's desire to go on a cruise. Wu had mentioned how he'd never been on one and wished that his family could go on a trip together, shared his dad.

His wish has been fulfilled, albeit posthumously, with the help of Indonesian magnate Tahir.

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Tahir, who goes by one name, is the founder of Mayapada group — a conglomerate with interests in banking, healthcare and real estate — and he has a net worth of about US$4.9 billion (S$6.69 billion) according to Forbes.

According to Shin Min, Tahir had visited the family in March last year, donating $100,000 for Wu's bone marrow transplant operation. He donated another $50,000 this year to assist with Wu's medical fees.

After learning of the boy's death, Tahir once again donated $20,000 to the family, along with the sponsorship of the three-night cruise holiday.

When interviewed, Tahir offered his condolences and shared that he hoped Wu's family would still be able to live a happy life.

Tahir also revealed to Shin Min that he is a member of the Giving Pledge, a campaign set up in 2010 by Microsoft Corp co-founder Bill Gates and US business tycoon Warren Buffett.

The charity foundation encourages the world's super-rich to give away most of their wealth to philanthropic causes, according to Reuters.

Tahir told Shin Min that he'd signed the pledge seven or eight years ago in the US, and promised to give away 50 per cent of his wealth to charity.

Believing himself to be the only Indonesian involved in the campaign, Tahir claimed that growing up in poverty filled his heart with gratitude for what he has, which is why he is very willing to assist the disadvantaged in society.

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candicecai@asiaone.com