Patten's farewell breakfast points to a lean future

IF the last meal of the Governor, Mr Chris Patten, at Queen Mary Hospital was a sign of things to come, he has some lean times ahead of him.

Before he was discharged from the hospital yesterday morning, Mr Patten had a breakfast of one cup of skimmed milk and two slices of wholemeal bread spread with low-cholesterol apricot jam.

The Governor, who has been ordered to diet after undergoing an operation to widen two of his arteries, went without butter or margarine.

When he appeared at the entrance to Block J of the hospital at 9.05 am, Mr Patten smiled and waved to the waiting crowd of reporters and photographers and announced he felt ''fine, much better''.

He stopped to shake hands with the doctor who treated him, Dr Michael Tsang Tse-shu, and Ms Teresa Lui, nursing officer in charge of the coronary care unit, before stepping into his government Daimler along with his wife, Lavender.

''He told me he was tired yesterday. Not today - he's fine. He's walking well this morning,'' said Departmental Operations Manager Ms Eva Liang, a senior nursing officer.

Mr Patten was the only patient in the two-bed coronary care unit, but the hospital's chief executive, Dr Vivian Wong Chi-woon, insisted the patient in the other bed had been moved to intensive care ''purely on medical grounds''.

Typical activities on the 8th floor of Block J resumed quickly after the Governor was discharged.

Staff at the bone marrow transplant centre, adjacent to the coronary care unit, expressed some relief.

They had been forced to move their outpatient clinic to a ward that was under renovation while Mr Patten was being treated.

The coronary care unit nurses were thanked by Mrs Patten with a large box of chocolates.

It was an ironic gift, as chocolates were a luxury food item that the nurses had kept from Mr Patten.

The hospital restricted the Governor to a daily snack of high-fibre biscuits and tea with skimmed milk, no sugar.

Mr Patten's physicians at Queen Mary Hospital said they would work out a menu for the ''overweight'' Governor but declined to disclose details.

One cardiologist, who asked not to be named, said patients with coronary disorders should eat low fat and low cholesterol food to prevent a relapse.

The heart specialist, who did not treat Mr Patten, said he could continue to suck the Polo mints which sustained him during his long inaugural speech last year, as sweets had no direct relation to heart diseases.

Meanwhile, a special prayer will be said at masses in all Catholic churches tomorrow for the Governor's good health.