Blood therapy

Wife shed tears but couldn’t speak, husband of deceased in blood therapy case tells court

Woman had not told spouse about treatment, which cost her more than HK$1 million

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 June, 2017, 4:17pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 June, 2017, 10:59pm

A Hong Kong woman who died of blood poisoning after receiving an “unnecessary” cancer treatment at a beauty clinic shed tears but was unable to talk to her husband as she spent her final days in the intensive care unit, a court heard during a manslaughter trial.

Chan Yuen-lam lost consciousness after being admitted to Ruttonjee Hospital on October 4, 2012, a day after receiving treatment from beauty chain DR Group, her husband told the High Court on Friday.

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“She was intubated and could not speak. She had no response,” Yeung Kam-hoi, Chan’s spouse and the first prosecution witness, said.

“When I talked, I saw tears coming out of her eyes,” Yeung recalled.

He also said his wife, who died on October 10, had not informed him that she was seeking treatment with DR Group. He found out that the sessions had cost her more than HK$1 million between 2011 and 2012 only when he checked her bank information. Had he known about the price and the risk involved, he said, he “would have prevented her”.

Chan died of multiple organ failure after suffering from septicaemia, a serious blood infection that the prosecutors alleged resulted from the cytokine-induced killer cell (CIK) treatment at DR group’s Hong Kong Mesotherapy Centre in Causeway Bay on October 3, 2012. It was a case of gross negligence on the part of the two doctors and technician involved, the prosecutors argued.

Dr Stephen Chow Heung-wing, head of DR Group, employee Dr Mak Wan-ling, and laboratory technician Chan Kwun-chung have all denied one count of manslaughter.

Apart from Chan, who died on October 10, two other patients, Wong Ching-bor and Wong Fung-kwan, also suffered from septicaemia, with the former losing both legs and four fingers.

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Chow’s sister, Chow Yan-yan, was also infected after the treatment, which required blood to be extracted, “enhanced” with white blood cells and injected back to the patients, with the effect, the group claimed, of improving one’s immunity.

The prosecutors alleged that to make a profit, DR Group launched, marketed and promoted the treatment in a rush shortly after it learned the techniques, which is at an experimental stage and should only applied on cancer patients, from the mainland.

On Friday, an audio clip was played to the jury of a conversation between a doctor and the deceased, Chan, during a blood extraction carried out by someone other than Mak.

Before taking Chan’s blood, the doctor told her that the treatment was used in both mainland China and Japan for treating cancer patients by cultivating hundreds of millions of white blood cells. At DR Group, the aim was to improve customers’ health, so only hundreds of thousands of cells would be cultivated to attack “mutated cells”.

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“Our living environment these days is full of radiation, food and mutation,” the doctor was heard telling Chan. “Therefore, it is easier for our body to have mutated cells than in the past.”

The doctor then said that as a person aged, their white blood cells would decline in number.

However, citing medical advice, the prosecutors earlier said that increasing the number of CIK cells did not necessarily improve one’s immunity.

Yeung concluded his testimony yesterday. The trial continues before Mrs Judianna Barnes on Monday.