Family's joy as liver transplant hailed a success

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 July, 2011, 12:00am


A seriously ill liver-failure patient is likely to be out of hospital in three weeks after a lifesaving transplant operation hailed by doctors and his family as a success.

Ricky Cheng Kin-kwong (pictured) was last night in a stable condition in the intensive care unit at Queen Mary Hospital after the day-long transplant operation ended at 9pm on Friday.

The donor, a distant female relative aged in her 40s who passed a series of biological and psychological tests before the operation, left hospital yesterday.

Cheng's family had been desperately seeking a donor after the hepatitis B sufferer's liver function dropped to just 10 per cent of normal last Saturday. Without a transplant, he was given only a 10 per cent chance of surviving more than three months.

His siblings, who also have hereditary hepatitis B, were ruled out as potential donors, as were other relatives whose blood types did not match.

Cheng's wife, Emily Tsui Yee-wan, said she was grateful for the relative's decision to undergo the transplant and to the strangers who had stepped forward as potential donors after the family's requests for help on the internet.

'I'm looking forward to his full recovery,' she said.

Cheng's niece Angel Lam Ho-kwan, who had helped take care of him every day during the past week, said: 'We can finally relax. We're grateful for the relative's help, and also to the more than 10 strangers who actually came and had their livers tested, even though none turned out to be suitable.'

Professor Lo Chung-mau, head of the University of Hong Kong liver transplant team at Queen Mary Hospital, said the operation went well. 'The liver was donated by a distant relative and the operation went smoothly. It ended at 9pm on Friday,' he said.

He added that the key to the success of the operation was the relative's willingness to donate part of her liver. 'The most important thing was not whether the livers matched, but whether the person had the determination to do it,' he said.

Lo said Cheng's condition was stable, and it was highly likely he would be ready to leave hospital in three weeks. 'When he came his condition was not very good, so I think he will need a bit more time than usual to be fully recovered,' he said.

Cheng had been placed at the top of the waiting list for a liver from a dead donor, but it is rare to find a suitable and functional one from such a source.

Crystal Ku Wing-yin, another of Cheng's nieces, said some relatives had flown from Australia to see if they were suitable donors. More than 40 strangers had also offered to help after an appeal by Cheng's wife on Facebook which received wide media attention. None of them were deemed suitable as potential donors.

Cheng has needed drugs to control his condition since he was young. Two weeks ago, he experienced acute heartburn and was rushed to the Caritas Medical Centre in Sham Shui Po. He was prescribed drugs but the situation worsened, and he was transferred to Queen Mary Hospital.