Manila hostage victim Yik Siu-ling continues on road to recovery

Manila bus victim 'reborn' after successful operation but questions linger over treatment

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 January, 2014, 5:20am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 January, 2014, 5:20am

For more than three years, the journey to recovery for Yik Siu-ling - who was shot in the face during the 2010 Manila bus hostage crisis - has been a very public and difficult path.

Last week, the 37-year-old described being "reborn" and hopeful of a new life after a successful operation in Taiwan to reconstruct her jaw.

But her optimism was bittersweet amid recent claims that interference in her treatment by hospital administrators in Hong Kong may have hindered her recovery.

Yik was one of the 14 survivors of the Manila bus tragedy. On August 23, 2010, sacked Filipino policeman Rolando Mendoza took 22 Hongkongers and three Filipinos captive on a tour bus in Manila.

Seven Hong Kong tourists and their guide were killed during a bungled rescue operation in which Mendoza also died.

Last month, the former head of plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin, Andrew Burd, went public with claims that senior administrators sought to delay surgery in the crucial early days of Yik's treatment for fear of negative media coverage.

Burd said this delay caused years of "unnecessary suffering" for Yik and has called for a public inquiry into her treatment in Hong Kong.

Evidence of his claims were seen in a series of internal e-mails where administrators discussed their worries with the plastic surgery team that the media would feel "misled" if the doctors adjusted the timetable to operate.

The Hospital Authority said the allegations that it had prioritised media management over medical treatment were "unsubstantiated" but declined to provide proof.

Yik, who was unaware of the claims until last week, said she was confused by Burd's revelations and would seek an explanation from the hospital.

On Thursday, in her first interview since undergoing microsurgery on December 18 at the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taipei, Yik said: "I am quite unhappy because the [Prince of Wales] hospital did not explain to me what went wrong three years ago".

A spokeswoman said the hospital had sent letters to Yik last November, and as recently as December 27, 2013, offering to clarify any concerns about her surgeries but that Yik had yet to accept the invitations.

At the heart of the issue is Yik's decision to go to Taiwan for treatment.

The mother-of-one underwent 33 operations in Hong Kong but problems with inflammation and bone abnormalities meant the jaw reconstruction work had to be reversed.

"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.

Yik said she had spent about HK$400,000 on the surgery in Taiwan after receiving an undisclosed sum from Filipino businessmen as part of a reconciliation effort between Manila and Hong Kong.

With 2014 looking the most hopeful since that life-changing summer day in Manila three years ago, Yik - who previously said she had not told her young son how she got her injuries - is set to return to Hong Kong later this month a new woman, with much to look forward to.