Patient hails selfless Chinese medicine practitioner dead at 27

Lily Yang, 27, spent last years of her life fighting kidney disease while curing needy at no charge

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 November, 2012, 4:23am

Lily Yang Yan Lee-loi, a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) doctor who spent the final two years of her life fighting her own disease while curing the needy, was described as an angel by one of those she cared for.

The 27-year-old died of acute kidney failure on November 4, and a memorial service for her at Baptist University tomorrow will be attended by 150 people.

"When I first heard [about her death], it was like a bolt from the blue," said a former patient of Yang's. "She was such a nice and sincere person, and her medical skills are so good. Why did such a good person die so young?" she said with tears in her eyes.

The woman, who is in her 50s, was among the nearly 3,000 patients who Yang helped as a volunteer, charging no fee, before her death.

Yang had treated her once a week since 2010 at the Society for Community Organisation in Sham Shui Po, for headaches and aching bones. "We all thought that she was an angel," she said.

Yang's kind-hearted nature may have stemmed from her humble beginnings.

"We lived in a tin shack in San Po Kong before moving to public housing in Choi Hung, for primary school," said Iris Yang Yan-kim-ning, her 26-year-old sister, who is also a TCM practitioner.

"Our mother suffered a stroke about 10 years ago and our father, who was a construction worker, quit working to take care of her. Our family of five then depended on social assistance [such as disability and welfare]."

Even so, Lily Yang managed to graduate in 2009 from her five-year Chinese medicine major at Baptist University with the help of grants and scholarships.

Unfortunately, in the same year she developed a kidney condition called focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, which leads to fatal and incurable kidney failure. At weekends, she travelled to Guangzhou for treatment.

But none of her problems stopped her helping the needy with free medical care.