Patient's age a mystery to her surgeon, coroner told

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 February, 2006, 12:00am

The doctor who carried out liposuction on a 70-year-old woman who died shortly after the operation told the Coroner's Court yesterday he was unaware of her age.

Lam King-fong was undergoing an operation to have fat removed from her abdomen by plastic surgeon Franklin Li Wang-pong on August 28, 2003, when she fell unconscious after being injected with a local anaesthetic.

She died on the way to hospital, after cardio-pulmonary and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation failed to revive her at the surgeon's private clinic.

Dr Li, who had attended to Lam since 1978, said she never told him her age nor her real name. She had also not shown him her identity card even though he had performed 17 operations on her body throughout those years.

'She was very secretive. She would not provide me with any details, including her real name,' he said. 'She was known to me as Mo Mei [Lam's false name], with which she signed the documents too. I had asked her about her age but she always refused to disclose [this].'

Asked by Coroner Peter White why he performed surgery on her when she refused to disclose such important details, Dr Li said he had known Lam for many years and never thought she was as old as 70.

'She looked to me as if she was only 50,' he said. 'She was always well-dressed and wore a well-made wig. The only thing that revealed her true age was her facelifts.'

Dr Li also prescribed medicine for angina three times between 1999 and 2002, the coroner heard. However, he insisted the prescription was as a precaution and he never suspected Lam was suffering from heart disease.

Dr Li admitted giving Lam an analgesic called Rapifen after she complained verbally that she felt pain during the early stage of the surgery. However, he insisted the amount used was only one fourth of the normal dose.

The hearing continues today.