Operation Santa Claus

Lions Centre helps to ease financial burden on liver patients' families

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 December, 2012, 3:28am

Yeung So-chow had not imagined how big a burden kidney failure could be, until her elderly mother fell ill two years ago.

For many months, the Yeung family had to come up with HK$2,400 each week to pay for kidney dialysis for their mother, Lai Fung-kai, 67.

The family chose haemodialysis for Lai instead of peritoneal dialysis, which is government- subsidised, because they did not want her to suffer as much.

Haemodialysis, which makes use of a machine to cleanse the blood of toxins, is the more effective of the two procedures. Patients on peritoneal dialysis must introduce a fluid through a permanent tube in the abdomen and flush it out three times a day, exposing themselves to the risk of infection because of the tube.

"She had worked so hard to bring up me and my sister. We don't want her to go through such hardships in her old age," Yeung, 47, said.

Lai goes to the Lions Kidney Educational Centre and Research Foundation's dialysis centre in Sham Shui Po twice a week. The procedure costs HK$1,200 each time, almost half the price charged at a private hospital, where she was treated in 2010.

The financial burden on the family was heavy, Yeung said, but it would have been worse had they not come to know of the Lions service.

About 4,000 patients in the city undergo kidney dialysis. The charity was set up in 1991 to provide affordable yet quality haemodialysis to the needy. "We also care for their carers. Patients' families face a lot of stress," said Anna Mok Lai-chun, who is the foundation's general manager of nursing.

Its Sham Shui Po centre offers 32 dialysis machines and a spacious environment for patients, who are connected to the machines for at least four hours each time.

Half the machines had been replaced in the past year because they were old. The new machines, imported from Europe, cost HK$250,000 each. Funds from Operation Santa Claus will pay for two of these machines.

The non-government-funded foundation intends to increase its number of dialysis machines; for each new piece of equipment, the centre can accept six more patients.