A celebrity couple's baby may not have died the day after his birth had a paediatrician been on standby for the delivery, an expert witness told a Medical Council disciplinary hearing yesterday.
Dr Vincent Leung Tze-ching was giving evidence on behalf of fellow paediatrician Dr Wan Kam-ming, who denies professional misconduct over the death of Tin-lam, son of former actress Eugina Lau Mei-kuen and singer Peter Cheung Shung-tak.
Leung argued that a paediatrician could have resuscitated the child in the labour ward and prevented him from being deprived of air had one been present at the birth on February 19, 2005.
Wan was called in by obstetrician Dr Christine Choy Ming-yan, who faces the same charge, about an hour after the baby was born using a vacuum extractor in an induced birth. He resuscitated him and tended to him that day.
"I think [Wan] did all he could do. I don't think I could have done a better job," Leung said yesterday, the ninth and final day of the hearing. "The baby didn't survive because he was in a bad state when Dr Wan arrived."
The council's temporary chairwoman, Professor Felice Lieh Mak, said Leung seemed to have a "very sanguine attitude" and was "very relaxed" in commenting on the case.
Leung defended Wan against criticism from the prosecuting officer and panel members - including a claim that Tin-lam should have been sent to a public hospital earlier, and that Wan should have done more when he realised the boy's blood pressure was low.
He said Wan was right to give the boy a blood transfusion to stabilise him before the hospital transfer, arguing that his condition could have deteriorated in the ambulance. Fluctuating blood pressure was normal in newborns.
The boy's blood pressure was low in the morning and afternoon. At about 5pm, Wan arranged for the boy to be moved from the private St Teresa's Hospital in Kowloon to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Yau Ma Tei when he discovered that the child had not passed urine. He needed a blood-toxin removal treatment that was not available at St Teresa's, the council heard.
Leung believed the boy's death was due to oxygen deprivation before, during or after birth. While a paediatrician could have revived the boy at birth, later action would always be in vain, he said. "I pity Dr Wan, having to do all that," Leung said.
The tribunal will deliver its decision on May 11.
After the hearing, Peter Cheung said: "My son's life was lost. I believe [through the investigation] we can let the public know what concerns there are in Hong Kong's healthcare … We thought we were giving him the best at the time."