Hostage crisis victim undergoes jaw surgery

Yik Siu-ling looking 'nervous but brave' before operation, staff at Taiwanese hospital say

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 December, 2013, 5:12am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 December, 2013, 4:56pm

Manila hostage crisis survivor Yik Siu-ling was yesterday undergoing a fresh round of surgery to rebuild her shattered lower jaw at one of Taiwan's top hospitals.

The 37-year-old was said by staff at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital to be looking "somewhat nervous but brave" before being taken to the operating theatre for the jaw reconstruction operation.

Yik's surgery is being financed by Filipino businessmen as part of an attempt to reconcile Manila and Hong Kong, more than three years after eight Hongkongers died at the hands of sacked policeman Rolando Mendoza.

The surgical team led by Dr Wei Fu-chan, one of the island's top craniofacial and microsurgical reconstruction specialists, declined to reveal details of the operation nor how long it would take. But one hospital worker said such operations typically took between 10 and 13 hours.

The staff member, who declined to be identified, said the surgery would involve removing part of the patient's calf bone for use in the jaw reconstruction. New teeth would be implanted only after the reconstruction of the jaw.

Another member of staff said the hospital had performed more than 20,000 jaw reconstruction operations, with a success rate of more than 90 per cent.

Wei told reporters on Monday there was a chance Yik would be back in Hong Kong for the Lunar New Year holiday at the end of next month. He expressed confidence about the operation but said no doctor in the world could guarantee success.

Yik's elder sister is accompanying her in Taiwan.

Yik underwent 33 operations in Hong Kong, which also included the implantation of bone from one of her calves. But problems with inflammation and bone abnormality led to the removal of the implants in August, leaving her back at square one.

Yik said on her departure last week that the money she had received was barely enough to cover the cost of the "very expensive" operation.

Negotiations over funding for Yik's treatment were part of a wider discussion between Hong Kong and Manila about compensation and an apology for the 14 Hongkongers who survived the kidnapping and botched rescue attempt and the families of those who died.

While Manila is thought to have agreed to compensation terms and to other requests from the families - including punishment for officials at fault in the tragedy - differences over the wording of the apology were holding up progress last week.