Quadriplegic Tang Siu-pun, who stirred debate on euthanasia, dies

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 December, 2012, 7:14am

Quadriplegic Tang Siu-pun, whose appeal for the right to end his life sparked widespread discussion about euthanasia, died yesterday. He was 43.

"When he left us, all his family members, friends and classmates were beside him," a family statement said. "He left at ease, without any suffering."

Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man described him as a "warrior of life".

Tang, more popularly known by the nickname Ah Bun, was admitted to the Caritas Medical Centre in Sham Shui Po on Friday. He died of septicaemia, a condition in which disease-causing bacteria enters the bloodstream.

Tang went through his final hours accompanied by family and close friends. They said he left without suffering.

"We told him not to be worried," said Lawrence Lee Hei-sum, a schoolmate and long-time friend.

"[But] everything came so suddenly."

Tang was only half-conscious when he reached the hospital, and his condition worsened quickly, a doctor said.

Hospital Authority chairman Anthony Wu Ting-yuk praised Tang for his courage.

"He wrote a book to share his experience," Wu said. "He held a positive attitude. Hong Kong people should learn from his perseverance."

Ko, who visited Tang at Caritas on Saturday, also offered his condolences to the family.

Tang was rehearsing for a gymnastics event in 1991 when he fell. The accident left his spine badly injured, paralysing him from the neck down.

In 2003, he composed a letter to chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, asking for euthanasia to be legalised so he could end his life.

Tung rejected the request, but Tang's predicament stirred sympathy in many Hongkongers.

His plea led to a public debate about the morality involved in allowing someone to die.