Doctor tells court of bid to stop bleeding

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 April, 2008, 12:00am

A surgeon yesterday told an inquest he had tried various means to stop the profuse bleeding suffered by a patient undergoing keyhole surgery at Hong Kong Adventist Hospital.

John Boey was operating to remove non-cancerous growths from the adrenal gland of Ng Keong-ching, a former general manager of Swire Beverages. He said the bleeding became very heavy within two minutes.

The Coroner's Court has heard Ng, 55, lost 10 litres of blood. He died two days later, on June 9, 2005.

Answering questions from coroner's officer Kathie Cheung, Dr Boey - a surgeon with 20 years in private practice and formerly a senior lecturer at the University of Hong Kong - said he identified the area from which the blood was coming but had difficulty finding the wound, which was on the inferior vena cava.

The inferior vena cava is a major vein carrying blood from the lower half of the body back to the heart.

Cross-examined by Raymond Leung Wai-man, representing Ng's family, Dr Boey said he had performed more than 60 similar operations. But he admitted that only five or six of these had been performed using keyhole surgery.

Dr Boey told Ms Cheung that when the bleeding began he had quickly decided to perform open surgery rather than keyhole surgery. He asked nurses to summon another surgeon to the Happy Valley hospital.

Having made a bigger incision to get a better picture of the massive bleeding, he told nurses to introduce instruments to better gauge the location of the wound. This did not help.

He then introduced four packs of gauze and used his hands to press them against the inferior vena cava, which reduced the blood flow.

When surgeon Darren Mann arrived, Dr Boey agreed Mr Mann should take charge of an operation to stop the bleeding.

Dr Boey said the immediate cause of Ng's death was a heart attack. The underlying cause was insufficient blood supply to the heart for some time after the bleeding began.

The hearing continues today before Coroner William Ng Sing-wai.