Mum tells of 'treasure I almost lost forever'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 September, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 September, 2000, 12:00am

A boy who would have been aborted because of a doctor's misdiagnosis played happily yesterday as the Medical Council heard how his mother had been told he was dead in her womb.

'I will tell him the story when he gets older. He is my treasure and I almost lost him forever,' Mrs Leung said. She said his name carried the Chinese character ching meaning 'healthy and normal'.

The 18-month-old, wearing white-and-blue sportswear, jumped and ran outside the council's conference room. He smiled and shook hands with reporters, having no idea he was at the centre of the drama being played out at the hearing.

The council ruled Dr Mak Kit-che not guilty of professional misconduct although she wrongly diagnosed the boy as 'dead' when still a nine-week-old foetus in his mother's womb.

Mrs Leung said she had lost faith in the council. 'If a doctor can walk free after making such a serious mistake, how can the council possibly protect patients? Doctors should be very cautious when considering life and death. It is not a common cold or flu. It is about a life.'

The housewife had been suffering from fertility problems. Mrs Leung said she had thought long and hard before complaining against a doctor whom she had trusted and relied on. She had been Dr Mak's patient for six years before the misdiagnosis. Dr Mak had been her attending doctor when she gave birth to her elder son, now aged six.

'We used to have very good relations, and I thought about dropping my complaint. However, I want the public to know about our case so they can learn a lesson. My advice is you have to seek second opinion before any surgery.'

Her husband was also disappointed by the council's decision. 'Our case could be the tip of an iceberg. No one knows how many abortions in Hong Kong have been carried out because of a misdiagnosis,' Mr Leung said.

Iris Chan Sui-ching, chairwoman of the Alliance of Patients' Mutual Help Organisations, said: 'The Medical Council has set too many boundaries. Misdiagnosis does not always mean misconduct, but we question the competence and quality of the doctor. Under the existing system, such problems are not being taken care of.'

Spokeswoman for the Patients Rights Association Lilian Lau Sau-han said the council had failed to convince the public it had done justice. 'We do not deny that in some circumstances, a doctor should not be found guilty of misconduct just for making a wrong diagnosis. However, the council's investigation process is too closed-door and the patient cannot see justice has been done,' she said.