HK transplant patients tackle sporting events in world games

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 20 August, 2007, 12:00am

Organ transplant recipients, aged 16 to 68, will represent Hong Kong in athletics, swimming and other events at the 16th World Transplant Games starting in Bangkok on Saturday.

A record 21 transplant patients from the city, including heart, lung, bone marrow, liver and kidney recipients, will compete in the Thai capital with more than 1,300 participants from around the world until September 2.

This is the first time that the city is sending such a diverse team of transplant recipients to the competition, held every two years by the World Transplant Games Federation. Events include table tennis, badminton, bowling, golf, archery and petanque. Team manager Chau Ka-foon, of the Society of Transplantation, said 48 countries would take part this year.

'This is the first time the Society of Transplantation is organising such a big event,' she said. 'I hope the patients can gain confidence through participating in the events. It's important for their recovery.'

Lomond Chu Lok-man, 16, is the youngest participant.

He was born with jaundice and had biliary atresia, a condition where the bile duct is blocked or absent, when he was two months old. He received a liver when he was in Primary 5.

'I was vomiting blood all over the tub and I had cirrhosis,' he said. 'If I didn't have the liver transplant back then, I'd probably have had only two to three months left to live.'

Despite a new liver, he suffers occasionally from stomach pain due to intestinal obstruction.

He needs to visit the hospital for intravenous drips every few months.

'I had too many big surgeries before, and my stomach still hurts almost once a week,' he said.

He will take part in four events: the 100 metre sprint, long jump, the cricket ball throw and 4x100 metre relay event. 'I want to raise awareness of organ transplants through participating in this sports competition.'

The oldest Hong Kong athlete, Leung Hoi-ming, 68, is just as energised. Mr Leung, who had a kidney transplant in 1995, will compete in the table tennis and 10-pin bowling events.

'I had proteinuria [an excess of protein in the urine] and renal failure,' he said.

'My doctor said the queue [for kidney transplants] in Hong Kong was too long ... so I got a kidney in Foshan in 1995.'

After he recovered, he said, he spent more time exercising, and with his family's support, he signed up for the sports competition in Bangkok, where he will be accompanied by his son and daughter-in-law.