Duo in city’s worst beauty treatment blunder deserve jail for ‘unforgivable’ actions, says husband of dead victim
A beauty chain owner and his technician were jailed for manslaughter on Monday, prompting calls for stricter regulation of Hong Kong’s beauty industry
The husband of a woman who died from an experimental cancer therapy sold to her as a health boost on Monday hailed the court’s stern punishment of the beauty clinic’s founder and its technician as “doing justice” but said he still could not forgive them.
Legislator Alice Mak Mei-kuen, speaking for Chan Yuen-lam’s husband Yeung Kam-hoi, whom she has been assisting, said: “Mr Yeung respects the court’s verdict and sentencing. But no matter how long the pair are to be put in jail, it cannot bring his beloved wife back to life again.
“The family could not forgive the duo who are professionals but are so selfish that they chose to make quick money and pay no regard to the safety of clients.”
Speaking through a lawyer, Wong Ching-bor, one of three other women who survived the treatments, said Chow and Chan Kwun-chung deserved serious punishment because “a life was lost”.
Chan Yuen-lam died of blood poisoning and bacterial infection while Wong had her legs and four fingers amputated to save her life.
Mak said that for the affected women and their families, the jailing of DR Group founder Stephen Chow Heung-wing and technician Chan Kwun-chung on Monday was the end of only one chapter in a long-running story.
“There is still a third defendant for whom the jury could not reach a valid majority verdict,” Mak said, referring to Dr Mak Wan-ling, the doctor who administered the injections on the deceased woman.
The court is expected to hear next month from the prosecution on how it intends to follow up on the matter. The doctor was released on bail in the meantime.
Chow, 63, was given a 12 year sentence while Chan Kwun-chung, 32, was jailed for 10 years. Chow was unanimously convicted of manslaughter through gross negligence by a nine-member jury last week. But Chan Kwun-chung was found guilty on a 7-2 majority vote.
The beauty treatment blunders took place in 2012, when four women fell ill after receiving cytokine-induced killer (CIK) cell therapy at the Hong Kong Mesotherapy Centre, owned by Chow’s DR Group, in Causeway Bay.
The treatment, sold at HK$59,500 per injection, was said to be able to improve immunity by enhancing cells in the body that are capable of killing their mutated counterparts before they become cancerous.
Besides Chan Yuen-lam and Wong, Wong Fung-kwan had to learn how to walk again while Chow’s sister, a lung cancer patient, had a fever and diarrhoea 10 times a day after the second infusion.
The source of the bacteria was never identified due to the lack of protocol and documentation at the laboratory that handled the blood products.
Yeung and two other victims have since filed civil claims against the trio and the DR Group’s subsidiaries.
The blunder shed light on the booming but often unregulated industry of beauty centres that have offered everything from stem cell injections to body contouring surgery.
Alice Mak also urged the government to step up its monitoring of the industry, especially on medical services offered as beauty treatments. “I think the whole sector should not be so selfish as to oppose plans to regulate them,” she said.
“A mistake made in a single minute could result in the loss of a valuable life.”