For want of a helper, youngsters live in hospitals instead of with their families While other children rush to open their presents on Christmas Day, Chan Kwan-mei will lie in her hospital bed - as she has done for the past three years. She doesn't need to be there. And with your help, Kwan-mei can be home next Christmas. On Saturday we highlighted the plight of Kwan-mei, 14, and her family. She and her five-year-old brother, Chan Ming-chung, both suffer from a paralysing disease, congenital mitochondrial myopathy. The siblings cannot speak or breathe independently, but they have loving parents who desperately want their family together at home again. Ming-chung lives at home in the family's cramped public housing flat in Kwai Fong Estate. But Kwan-mei must live at Princess Margaret Hospital because there's not enough room for them both at home. She could live at home if only there was more space and one helper, costing about $4,000 a month - a fraction of what it costs Hong Kong to keep her in hospital. With your donations to Operation Santa Claus, we can get Kwan-mei home, perhaps not for this Christmas, but soon after and for every other Christmas to come. The two children miss one another. Their parents have no time to themselves. Mother Chan Chu Kwai-wing is burned out and father Chan Kwing-wo, a retiree, helps care for their son at home. The family, who live on welfare, is on the Housing Authority's waiting list for a slightly larger flat. The Families of SMA Charitable Trust helps children with spinal muscular atrophy and the Chan siblings, whose condition is similar. The trust is one the 12 beneficiaries of this year's Operation Santa Claus. Donations will provide helpers for families such as the Chans to get their children home. The government has a helper scheme that requires the child to go home first and test the waters for a few months. Only if the transition is successful does the government finance the helpers. But the problem for families is that the children need 24-hour care. Many parents are too scared to bring their children home because of the awesome responsibility of providing care on their own before a helper is appointed months later. Money raised through Operation Santa Claus will directly provide a helper for Kwan-mei's family. Once her daughter is home, Mrs Chan can put through the paperwork to apply for a government helper. But without those initial funds, Kwan-mei will remain in hospital unnecessarily.