Parents backtrack on baby's liver op

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 January, 2012, 12:00am


The mainland couple whose infant son doctors say needs a life-saving liver transplant have decided to forgo the surgery - for which the Hong Kong public made donations - in favour of traditional Chinese treatment.

The parents of 19-month-old Li Liuxuan, whose plight made front-page news in the city two months ago, said a transplant would be a 'last resort' for now.

'Little Liuxuan's health is progressing well with the Chinese medicine he has been taking,' the father, Li Xianfeng, said last week.

'He has a better appetite now. His skin is not so yellow and he has grown taller and heavier.

'[Our] Chinese doctor said an operation may not be necessary, and we hope to avoid causing him serious harm [through a transplant operation],' the 32-year-old said.

The family has been consulting a doctor specialising in traditional Chinese medicine in Guangzhou since returning to the mainland.

The baby is being treated with crocus flowers, said to treat yellowing skin caused by liver disease.

Hongkongers donated tens of thousands of dollars to help the couple pay for a HK$1 million operation for Liuxuan, who was born with a blocked bile duct and whose liver was severely damaged.

The baby's recent progress may not be a sign of recovery, warns Professor Lo Chung-mau, director of Queen Mary Hospital's Liver Transplant Centre, who was consulted by the Li family in October.

Liuxuan's liver has been irreversibly damaged, Lo says, and a liver transplant - which has a 95 per cent success rate - is the only way to save the baby's life. 'He may be in stable condition now, but complications such as intestinal bleeding or bile duct inflammation may occur any time and cause death,' he said.

Lo also doubts the crocus flower's effectiveness. 'If it really worked, there wouldn't be so many people needing transplants,' he said.

Post readers sent donations to help Liuxuan, and the University of Hong Kong set up a Liver Transplant Charitable Fund. So far HK$119,870 has been received from 30 donors.

If the couple confirm they will not proceed with the transplant, donors who sent aid specifically for the baby will get a refund.

The liver centre will contact the family soon to get their final decision, Lo said.