Customs officer who had liver transplant is home for new year

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 February, 2011, 12:00am

A customs officer who received a liver donation from a colleague after he was seriously injured in a raid against illegal-cigarette sellers has returned home in time for the Lunar New Year.

Yuen Wai-cheung, who received part of a liver donated by fellow officer Simon Hui Sai-man in November, was released from hospital yesterday afternoon.

'The first person I want to see is my daughter,' Yuen said. 'I will have a reunion dinner with my family tonight to celebrate the new year.'

Yuen's liver function had returned to normal but he still needed training to use his legs, said Dr Chan See-ching, a consultant at Queen Mary Hospital.

Chan said doctors would decide later if Yuen was fit to resume work. First he will have a few months to practise walking and moving at home.

Yuen, using a wheelchair, looked tired but spoke loudly and clearly. He was accompanied by Hui and Customs and Excise Commissioner Yuen Ming-fai.

The 39-year-old inspector, who is a member of the revenue and general investigation bureau, damaged his liver when he tripped and fell against a roadside railing during a raid in late October. After the donation Hui, 40, recovered quickly and was released from hospital five days later.

Yesterday, Yuen thanked the man who saved his life. 'Simon is like my big brother now,' he said. 'At first I did not believe a stranger would donate his liver to me. 'When I knew that there was really that someone, I was deeply touched.'

Hui and Yuen's story attracted widespread media attention and encouraged more people to sign up as organ donors. About 65,000 are now registered as donors at the Centralised Organ Donation Register.

The government said more people signed up after November, but did not have precise figures.

Yuen said: 'Although the accident was a tragedy to me, I am glad that it has had a positive impact - that more people are willing to donate their organs.'

Hui also said he hoped the trend would continue. 'Hong Kong people have a caring heart. I hope the effect of our story will not fade with time, and that more people will be encouraged to come forward,' he said.