KOTA KINABALU: Muhammad Faisul Iman, 13, got butterflies in his stomach as he waited eagerly for the day to come so he could become a firefighter.
The wheel-chair bound boy, who is currently battling leukaemia, was so excited that he could not really sleep. Today he woke up at 6am – two hours earlier than usual.
Three hours later, Muhammad was decked in full firefighting gear and ditched the wheelchair for a memorable tour on a fire engine at the Women and Children Hospital in Likas, here.
His dream of becoming a firefighter was finally realised, thanks to Children’s Wish Society (CWS) of Malaysia and Sabah Fire and Rescue Department.
"The happiness I am feeling right now is indescribable," he told reporters afterwards, bravely giving out an interview despite facing difficulty in speaking.
Muhammad had his first bout with Precursor B-cell acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia when he was six. This means he has too many immature white blood cells in his blood and bone marrow.
At a young age, he started undergoing chemotherapy in hopes of treating the ailment. Since then, he has been in and out of the hospital, having to undergo treatment whenever his condition worsen.
Despite this, Muhammad from Kampung Seri Menanti in Kinarut, Papar remained strong and active until his health deteriorated to the point that he could no longer attend school on a regular basis.
This year, he spent most of his time at the hospital and is now on palliative care.
His sister Farah Lyana Yakub, 23, said Muhammad was a pupil of SK Kinarut but his condition forced him to abandon his studies in September last year.
"He has always been clever and interested in his studies. However, as a side effect of the chemotherapy, it becomes hard for him to remember things.
“My brother now has weak voice and talks slowly but I guess today is one of his better days. He is so happy and excited to speak to reporters and visitors,” she said.
She added Muhammad’s personal hardships did not dampen his spirits as he holds on to his dream of one day becoming a firefighter.
When the hospital staff heard this, they contacted CWS to help grant the boy’s wish.
This morning, a team of firefighters escorted Muhammad as he sat at the helm of a fire engine truck.
The firefighting experience was capped off with a surprise birthday party for Muhammad, who celebrated it with the firefighters, hospital staff, and family and friends.
Fighting off the side-effects and weariness from his last round of therapy, he put on a brave face as he thanked everyone present.
"I hope to become a firefighter someday so that I can help people too," he said while giving a shy smile.
Speaking on the boy’s ailment, paediatrician Dr Sam Chian Hoon said his condition took a turn for the worse after a stronger dose of chemotherapy few weeks ago.
"Currently, there is no prognosis for recovery but we will continue with the usual treatment, with transplants being an option depending on his health," he added.