Condition of Hong Kong heart failure sufferer worsens days after appeal for new organ

Tang Kai-him undergoes emergency surgery to clear blood clots in his brain

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2016, 8:16pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2016, 10:35pm

The condition of a 10-year-old boy who is waiting for a new heart deteriorated further on Tuesday when he suffered bleeding on the right side of his brain.

Tang Kai-him, whose mother and doctors made a public appeal in Queen Mary Hospital last Friday for someone to donate a heart to save the boy who suffered heart failure, received urgent brain surgery to clear blood clots and reduce pressure on his skull.

Dr Timmy Au Wing-kuk, the hospital’s chief of cardiothoracic surgery, said the next 24 hours would be critical for Tang.

“If he starts to get worse [and has] more bleeding inside his brain, we may not be able to save him,” Au told the Post.

He explained that Tang required anticoagulant –so-called blood thinner – when he was on an artificial heart machine, but it would be easy for the patient to develop internal bleeding.

“Now that we have stopped all the blood thinner medicine, one problem is clot formation inside the pumps and the tubing. Those clots can cause obstruction to other organs.”

Au warned that Tang’s brain could bleed further and the boy could go into a deeper coma.

“If [there is] severe brain damage, he will not be suitable for a heart transplant,” he added.

A hospital spokeswoman said earlier that Tang’s condition remained critical. He is on a ventilator to help him breathe and has been prescribed sedatives so he can sleep better.

“It is hoped that a suitable heart can be made available before Tang develops any more complications. The transplant team would then assess whether Tang’s clinical condition is suitable for heart transplant surgery,” the spokeswoman said.

Tang is waiting for a heart from a donor with blood type A and who is about the same size as the boy, who is 131cm tall and weighs 36kg. A heart within a 15 per cent deviation would be acceptable.

Au said in the appeal last week that Tang’s life would be in danger if he could not receive a transplant in the following one to two weeks. He has been suffering from severe heart failure which left his heart with less than 10 per cent of its functions.

The boy first showed symptoms of heart failure in December 2014 and was forced to leave school to receive treatment in October last year, when he was transferred to Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam for further care.

Seven heart transplants were performed in the first six months of this year. As of 30 June, 41 patients were waiting for hearts.