Ah Bun's moving book an inspiration for doctor
A quadriplegic's autobiography helped leading doctor Joseph Sung Jao-yiu have more empathy with his patients, he told a seminar yesterday.
At a reading sharing session at the Conrad Hotel in Admiralty, Professor Sung, associate dean of Chinese University's faculty of medicine, told a 700-strong audience that Tang Siu-pun's autobiography, I Want Euthanasia, was one of the most inspiring books he had read.
'I have become more compassionate after reading his book,' Professor Sung said. 'I used to ask patients about their illness only, saying: 'Have you taken the drugs?' But now when I meet some young patients, I will ask them how their studies are going. It's much friendlier.'
The 300-page book by Mr Tang, also known as Ah Bun, was published last year. It chronicles his life as a young sportsman, the somersault accident that put him in a hospital bed 16 years ago and his plea in 2004 to then chief executive Tung Chee-hwa to be allowed to die.
He became an instant celebrity when his letter to Mr Tung was made public.
'Patients not only need physical healing but also care and support,' Professor Sung said. 'They are desperate for the personal care of medical staff. I have never sympathised with patients so much before.
'Mr Tang is very shrewd. He has a thorough understanding of the whole issue [euthanasia]. It is so hard to argue with him why he can't have euthanasia, but I try to prove to him that he is still a useful man. I invited him to give a talk to my medical students and told him: 'You can still be a teacher, even teaching university students'.'
Mr Tang was majoring in sport when he had the accident in 1991.
'Once I learned that he wanted to learn screenwriting, I introduced him to professors lecturing on screenwriting at Chinese University and he is now taking a course via webcam,' Professor Sung said.
Book lover Ho Hoi-lam, at 14 the youngest medical student in the city, told the audience the Chicken Soup for the Soul series was one of her favourites. 'I used to be quite demanding of my friends, but I have learnt to give more and think more about what I can do for them than what they do for me,' she said.