Manila bus tragedy survivor heads to Taiwan for surgery

Yik Siu-ling to have jaw reconstruction thanks to donations from Filipino businessmen

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 December, 2013, 5:54am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 December, 2013, 5:54am

Three years after she was shot during the Manila hostage tragedy, Yik Siu-ling has some hope she can live a normal life again.

Yesterday, Yik left for Taiwan, where next Wednesday she will undergo surgery to rebuild her jaw. The operation has been financed by Filipino businessmen.

The 37-year-old was accompanied by her elder sister.

"I go to Taiwan with hopes that the operation will succeed," said Yik, whose lower jaw, left thumb and right index finger were shattered by a bullet in the 2010 hostage-taking crisis.

On August 23, 2010, a sacked policeman took 22 Hongkongers and three Filipinos captive on a tour bus in Manila. He shot dead seven Hong Kong tourists and their guide before being killed in a bungled rescue.

Since the bus tragedy, Yik has undergone dozens of operations in Hong Kong.

The operation in Taiwan will be conducted by surgeon Wei Fuchan at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital. Yik said she would stay in Taiwan for about one month after the operation. Wei is a professor of surgery and dean of the College of Medicine at Chang Gung University.

According to the British Society for Surgery of the Hand, Wei's department has performed extensive microsurgical reconstructions, while maintaining an unattested level of quality.

In Hong Kong, Yik's jaw was rebuilt by implanting a bone from one of her calves. But because of problems with inflammation and bone abnormality, all the implanted bones were removed in August this year.

"Everything has gone back to square one, as it was three years ago," Yik said. "Everything has to start from scratch.

"Saliva keeps dripping out, and I can't close my mouth. I don't want to wear a mask in future."

Declining to reveal the amount of money she had received, Yik said that it was barely enough to cover the operation costs - which she described as "very expensive".

The survivor once said that she had never told her young son what happened to her three years ago, but as the five-year-old boy has grown up a little, he now has a better understanding of Yik's hardship.

"He knows that I am here [in Taiwan] for an operation. He understands that I have to go in and out of hospital," Yik said.