ORGAN DONATION

Hong Kong mother issues tearful plea for a heart to save her son

Soccer-mad student is being kept alive by a mechanical pump after suffering a blood disorder, but surgeons say he desperately needs a transplant

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 January, 2017, 3:18pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 January, 2017, 2:09am

The mother of an ailing 20-year-old student, who recently suffered acute heart failure, made a public plea for an organ donation on Friday to save her son, who is surviving with the help of a mechanical pump implant.

Sunny Chi Chi-sun, a soccer player and fitness fanatic, has spent several weeks in hospital after being diagnosed with acute myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscles.

Dr Timmy Au Wing-kuk, division chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Queen Mary Hospital, said while Chi was still in good shape for now, his heart was only 10 per cent functional and an urgent transplant was needed.

“The window [for surgery] is open now until complications arise, such as an infection of the tracts and organs, formation of blood clots and internal bleeding,” Au said.

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

Only donors with O positive blood type would be suitable for Chi, who stands 1.75 metres tall and weighs 68kg, Au said.

Fighting back tears as she appealed for donors, Chi’s mother described him as an athletic and outgoing person.

“He plays as a goalkeeper and likes to train at the gym a lot. Every day he asks me to bring his football boots when I visit him,” she said in a shaky voice.

Records show that Chi represented Hong Kong top division side Sun Hei Sports Club as a member of the U-15 and U-17 squads.

Au said Chi’s heart failure was caused by a disorder of the white blood cells, part of the immune system defending against infections or viruses.

“But in [Chi’s] case, the white blood cells entered his heart muscles and began attacking the ‘good’ cells,” he explained, adding there was no explanation for this phenomenon yet in medical research.

Chi, a diploma student at the Hong Kong Institute of Technology, began experiencing flu symptoms in late November.

He was later diagnosed with acute myocarditis at Eastern Hospital, before he was transferred to the intensive care unit at Queen Mary.

Late last month surgeons fitted him with a biventricular assist device in a seven-hour operation, but Au said it might only be able to buy Chi a few months before he needs the transplant.

“Blood clots have started to form inside the machine ... and they could reach other parts of the body ... causing stroke and renal failure,” he said.

Au, who made a similar appeal for a donor heart in October to save 10-year-old Tang Kai-him, revealed that the boy, who was still waiting for a donor, had become friends with Chi after spending time together in the same ward.

Tang was also in good shape, Au added, and both were on top of the donor recipient list for a heart matching their size and blood type.

Chi’s mother said the family would remain positive and give him all their support.

“He has always dreamt of becoming a policeman or firefighter, and I have no idea why his condition deteriorated so quickly,” she mumbled, before breaking down in tears again.