Woman, 24, to sue dentist after 'operation leaves her paralysed'

Woman seeks compensation after suffering a stroke following operation

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 April, 2014, 3:38am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 October, 2016, 2:38pm

A young woman who ended up partially paralysed after an operation to fix her underbite is seeking legal aid to sue the dentist and hospital for compensation.

Gwenic Ma Ka-man, 24, said she had to undergo therapy to regain movement on the right side of her body after she suffered a stroke suspected to have resulted from a blunder during the operation in 2012.

She can no longer move her right hand freely and has to walk with a crutch.

Although Ma had signed a document acknowledging the risks involved in the oral surgery, former lawmaker Andrew Cheng Kar-foo - the lawyer supporting her - said this was not necessarily a full disclaimer that shielded the medical practitioner from all responsibility.

On Cheng's advice, Ma would not disclose the names of the dentist and the hospital involved.

Ma started seeing dentists for her underbite problem - in which her lower incisor teeth overlapped the upper - in 2004. She was told that on top of being fitted with dental braces, an operation might be necessary.

In mid-2012, she was referred to an orthodontist to prepare for the operation. During one consultation session, she was presented with a document stating the risks of the operation.

Ma signed the document and agreed that no more explanation was needed because she thought it was only procedural.

But yesterday, she said: "I was given a sheet of paper to read on my own, but [the orthodontist] did not verbally explain the details to me."

Ma said she suffered a stroke one night when she was still in hospital recovering from the operation and had to undergo emergency neurosurgery.

Doctors later told her the stroke was probably caused by a blocked blood vessel in the left side of her neck.

She had to undergo physiotherapy and so far has yet to fully regain movement in the right side of her body.

"I believe the dental operation went wrong," Ma said. "We contacted the orthodontist but were told the cause of the stroke could not be determined. I feel that the orthodontist has been trying to evade responsibility."

Cheng said that the dentist could still be held responsible although Ma had signed the paper acknowledging the risks of the operation.