Jump into a new life
Thanks to a liver transplant, a student recovered to become a champion athlete, reports Rebecca Tsui
Lomond Chu Lok-man, 16, is an energetic Form Five student at St Paul's College. When he was a child, his parents were told that he wouldn't live long. He is alive and well today thanks to a liver transplant.
Lok-man was born with biliary atresia, a congenital disease where the bile duct is blocked or absent.
He had his first major surgery when he was just two months old.
However, the operation could not entirely cure him of the disease. He was suffering from cirrhosis of the liver and had to spend most of his early childhood in hospital.
His health worsened as he grew up. Then one day, he coughed up a lot of blood. He was so frightened that he was convinced he would die young. 'If I didn't have a liver transplant, I'd probably have had only two to three months left to live.'
He is one of the rare lucky patients in Hong Kong, at 11 years old he received a liver transplant after only a few months on a long organ donor waiting list.
'The new liver gave me a second chance at life.'
He and his family are wholeheartedly grateful to the donor. He recovered fully from the operation and was quickly back to a normal life.
Despite the success of the transplant, he occasionally suffers from stomach pain, a side-effect of the surgery. 'The pain is much easier to bear than that I suffered before receiving my new liver.'
Although he still needs to visit the hospital for check-ups every few months, he is optimistic and treasures every moment of his life.
'The new liver really means a lot to me and I hope other patients waiting for an organ transplant can be as lucky as I was.'
This summer, he joined the World Transplant Games in Bangkok to promote organ transplants.
Joining him were 21 Organ transplant recipients, aged 16 to 68, representing Hong Kong in 57 events, including athletics and swimming.
They brought home 17 medals - six gold, two silver and nine bronze, and Lok-man was the proud winner of a gold medal for the long-jump and a bronze for the 100-metre sprint.
He was surprised as he had only participated twice in school sports days. 'I don't like taking part in competitions but I did not hesitate to join the Games when I was invited as I want to raise awareness of the importance of organ transplants.
'Although my parents were worried about me when I was in Bangkok as I suffer from stomach pain occasionally, they still fully supported me taking part.'
Lok-man's sporting success boosted his confidence and he is considering taking part in the next World Transplant Games in Australia in 2009. 'By the time of the next Games, I will be studying hard for my Advanced Level Examinations.' But he's determined to participate to continue promoting organ donation.
'Our slogan is: 'Life is precious, share it.' I hope more people in Hong Kong can donate their organs after death to help others live.'
To learn more about organ transplants and donations, visit www.ha.org.hk/odhk