Manila bus siege survivor Yik Siu-ling ‘reborn’ after surgery in Taiwan

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 January, 2014, 12:16pm
UPDATED : Friday, 03 January, 2014, 9:20am

Manila hostage-crisis survivor Yik Siu-ling said yesterday she felt "reborn" and hopeful for her future after a successful jaw operation in Taiwan.

But the 37-year-old hit out at the Hong Kong hospital responsible for previous, failed treatment of her shattered jaw and said she had never received a satisfactory explanation for what went wrong.

Yik underwent 33 operations in three years at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin, but problems with inflammation and bone abnormalities meant the jaw reconstruction work had to be reversed. A former top surgeon at the hospital this week called for an inquiry into the mother-of-one's treatment, which he said caused her "unnecessary suffering".

Doctors in Hong Kong were quite good to me and helped me a lot three years ago

"I am quite unhappy because the hospital did not explain to me what went wrong three years ago," said Yik, who sat in a wheelchair as she met the media for the first time since undergoing microsurgery on her lower jaw at Chang Gung Hospital on December 18.

"I feel that Prince of Wales Hospital did not do well in the area of explanation," she said in response to a question from the South China Morning Post.

Asked about comments by Professor Andrew Burd, former head of plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery at Prince of Wales, who had said the hospital's managers had prioritised media management over medicine, Yik said she was "not clear about that".

"Actually, doctors in Hong Kong were quite good to me and helped me a lot three years ago," she said, adding that surgery was never easy.

She said she had spent some HK$400,000 so far in Taiwan and was not sure whether she would be able to cover the final bill when it arrived. She received an undisclosed sum from Filipino businessmen for the operation as part of a reconciliation effort between Manila and Hong Kong. The two have been at loggerheads since eight Hongkongers were killed by fired policeman Rolando Mendoza in August 2010.

"The surgery cost is well over HK$1 million, and being a foreigner it's difficult for me to get any discount or exemptions," she said, adding that if she did not have enough to pay for follow-up operations, including plastic surgery, she might have the operations in Hong Kong.

Despite the financial help from the Filipino businessmen, Yik said the row between Hong Kong and the Philippines had yet to be settled because Manila had not apologised or provided compensation to other survivors and the families of victims.

Dr Wei Fu-chan, who led the team of surgeons that operated on Yik, said his patient would have new teeth implanted in about four months.

"In six months, she should be able to return to the condition she had hoped for, and show others her new appearance," Wei said, adding that Yik should be able to chew without difficulty in one year.