Former liver transplant patient sings HK's praises

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 13 March, 2006, 12:00am

A local teenager who had a liver transplant in Australia in 1991 has told doctors she is glad Hong Kong is now able to provide the same life-saving service for overseas patients.

Chau Yee-ting became the first local girl to have an overseas transplant, in Brisbane, when she was one year old, with fund-raising help by the Chinese-language Oriental Daily News.

Now 16, she told Queen Mary Hospital liver transplant surgeon Lo Chung-mau she found it inspiring that a Filipino youngster had been helped by Hong Kong's medical expertise.

'In the past, when we did not have the service, we sent our children overseas for transplants,' the professor said. 'Some of them are surviving very well.

'Chau was the first girl who went to Australia for a transplant, in 1991. I was telling her we were going to do a transplant for a Filipino boy. And she said we should help this boy because in the past she had benefited from people's donations.

'At that time, Hong Kong could not do the operation for her and she and her family had to travel all the way to Australia for the transplant. So she definitely supported us helping Mark because she had the same experience 15 years ago.'

Mark Jairus Mendoza received part of the left lobe of the liver of his mother, Lyden, in the operation last Thursday.

Philippine and Hong Kong donors raised the $1 million Mark needed for the transplant.

'One of the major obstacles is the cost of the transplant,' Professor Lo said. 'A million Hong Kong dollars is not something many people can afford, particularly people from developing countries.

'It is a very high-cost procedure and we are lucky Hong Kong residents can enjoy this high-quality medical care at such a low cost [under the public health system].'

The team also provides technical support for transplant operations on the mainland, and in Taiwan and Saudi Arabia. Their doctors and nurses are sent to Hong Kong to learn about transplants.

'Our objective is to be there once or twice to help them set up their own programme; when they are ready, we go to help them with the first couple of cases,' Professor Lo said.