Hong Kong husband makes new year wish for double lung transplant for ailing wife

Woman with rare heart and lung condition among sick Hongkongers hoping for life-saving organ transplants, and time is of the essence

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 January, 2017, 10:48pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 January, 2017, 11:05pm

The husband of an ailing 53-year-old woman who is suffering from a rare lung condition has only one wish for the Year of the Rooster: a new pair of lungs for his wife.

In 2004, doctors diagnosed Phyllis Kum Siu-wan with idiopathic pulmonary hypertension, a condition where abnormally high blood pressure in the lungs makes it hard for the heart to pump blood into them. Kum’s lungs and the left side of her heart are failing, and her liver function has also been damaged.

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Without a double lung transplant, doctors say she would be more susceptible to bacterial infection, which could put her life on the line.

Kum’s husband, who gave his name only as Lo, drew a cartoon of his wife holding a traditional Lunar New Year calligraphy scroll, wishing everyone good health in the Year of the Rooster.

“On the surface it looks like a seemingly joyful new year’s greeting cartoon, but each stroke of the pen is filled with pain and tears,” Lo wrote in a message sent through Hospital Authority staff.

“[She] is very weak. But we are still persevering and waiting for a donation from a good-hearted person,” Lo told local media.

In January, Kum was transferred to the intensive care unit at Grantham Hospital in south Hong Kong Island after her condition took a turn for the worse.

Dr Michael Wong Ka-lam, an associate consultant at the hospital’s cardiac medicine unit, said Kum was in dire need of a double lung donation from a deceased donor with an O positive blood type and of similar weight and height. Kum is 1.52 metres tall and weighs 37kg.

“When [the disease] is complicated by heart and other organ failures, the risk of death is certainly high. Most patients do not make it through half a year,” Wong said.

Kum has been at the top of the transplant waiting list, which has 16 other people on it, since July. Last year, there were nine lung transplants in Hong Kong.

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Lo, who has been married to Kum for 25 years, said he treated every day with his wife like it was Valentine’s Day.

“I don’t usually give flowers to her on Valentine’s Day. I only give her hand-drawn gifts. I think it’s more sincere that way,” Lo said. “If only there were a pair of lungs I could give her.”

Meanwhile, at least two other patients, at Queen Mary Hospital, urgently need organ donations: 10-year-old boy Tang Kai-him and 20-year-old soccer fanatic Sunny Chi Chi-sun both have serious heart problems.

Tang needs a heart from a donor with A positive blood, who is about 1.31 metres tall and weighs about 36kg.

Chi needs a heart from a donor with O positive blood, who is about 1.75 metres tall and weighs about 68kg.