Health chief refuses to point finger over baby mix-up in 1976

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 February, 2008, 12:00am

The secretary for food and health yesterday declined to comment about whether anyone should be held responsible for swapping Kelvin Li Kwok-yin at birth at Tsan Yuk Hospital on November 30, 1976.

It was very hard to know what happened because a lot of facts had yet to be confirmed, York Chow Yat-ngok said after attending a public function yesterday, adding the issue could not be easily solved.

He said he had discussed the matter with the Hospital Authority a month ago.

'We have talked about how to give as much assistance as we can to help Kelvin solve the problem,' Dr Chow said. 'And what we are concerned about most is how to protect other's privacy, as it is a landmark case in the city, therefore the authority has to take its time and first seek legal advice on the issue.'

But he said the authority might encounter difficulties as information in hospital records might not be comprehensive enough.

Due to the limited information kept in 1976, it could be difficult to trace every mother who gave birth during the same period Mr Li was born.

Dr Chow also appealed to people who were born at the hospital around the same time to come forward for a DNA test by contacting the Hospital Authority.

Meanwhile, authority chairman Anthony Wu Ting-yuk described the situation as a complicated but isolated matter.

An authority spokesman said the authority would brief news media tomorrow on the possibility of a public appeal that would encourage women who had babies at Tsan Yuk Hospital from November 28, 1976, to the beginning of December that year and men born there during the period to come forward for DNA tests.

Mr Wu said as the matter involved issues of privacy and patients' rights, the authority had to take into account such considerations before appealing to the public in relation to the DNA tests, which he said would be voluntary.

But the authority said details like the number of people who would be eligible for a DNA test and ways to approach them could not be confirmed immediately.

The central figure in the incident said he was delighted to see that the government was taking some level of responsibility.

'Whether the public search comes late or not does not matter to me,' Mr Li said

'What concerns me most is that at least they have done something now. It is much better than a few months ago when I met a brick wall with repeated inquiries to different government departments.'

The story began in October last year, when Mr Li's younger sister pointed out his blood type meant he could not possibly be her mother's son. Blood tests confirmed this.

A psychologist advised people who decide to have the DNA test that they should consider the possible effects the results might have on relationships with their families and should approach the test with a positive attitude.