Help our brave boy to live, plead parents of boy needing heart transplant

Lai Pak-yin is No 1 on the heart transplant list after the sport-loving schoolboy fell ill last year

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 August, 2013, 10:41am

Little more than a year ago, Lai Pak-yin was an active schoolboy who loved swimming and table tennis. Now his parents are appealing to Hongkongers to help their son get the heart transplant he needs to survive.

They are urging people to register as donors and know that if tragedy strikes, it could mean a new life for Pak-yin and others like him.

The 14-year-old has been on the transplant list for one month and has spent the last three months in Queen Mary Hospital, Pok Fu Lam, dependent on a mechanical heart to stay alive.

When he suddenly began vomiting and suffering stomach pains in April last year, doctors thought he had gastroenteritis. When he was still ill a month later, he was finally diagnosed with a rare case of dilated cardiomyopathy, where the heart becomes weakened and enlarged. The cause is unknown.

Three months ago, he began to show signs of multiple organ failure, and was hooked up to a sophisticated artificial heart pump.

Ever since he first fell ill, Pak-yin has not once shed any tears but now he has grown quiet.

Pak-yin's father Lai Kam-hung, 45, a minibus driver, said: "I know the chances of getting a matching heart are slim. But our biggest hope now is to have a suitable heart for him as soon as possible."

His mother, Janet Chow Yee-man, 44, an accounting clerk, said: "We hope he can have a transplant and return to his old life of playing sports again."

The mechanical heart comes with a real risk of infection and blood clots, especially after about 18 months.

It could lead to a stroke or death.

"He has no immediate life danger but it does not mean he is not in danger," said Dr Adolphus Chau Kai-tung, chief of paediatric cardiology at the hospital. Around 25 patients are on the waiting list for a heart transplant, but Pak-yin is given first priority.

So far this year, seven patients have been given a new heart.

One of them was the 58-year-old woman who was mistakenly given a heart that did not match her blood type.

Dr Timmy Au Wing-kuk, the hospital's chief of cardiothoracic surgery who was in charge of the operation, revealed that she had been discharged recently and was recovering like any normal transplant patient.

As of last Friday, 134,182 people had signed up for Hong Kong's centralised organ donation register.