Steroid treatment leaves terrible legacy, but estate now clean Two years ago Johnny Yip Kim-hung, along with dozens of his neighbours in Block E, was evacuated to isolation camps as Sars swept through the Amoy Gardens estate. For him, life has returned to normal, but others who caught the disease are not so lucky. They are suffering from permanent bone damage, caused by their medical treatment. Mr Yip, 37, says some residents have moved out of the estate, but he has never considered leaving because he believes it is 'the cleanest place' after hygiene improvements were made as a result of the outbreak. Few residents of Block E - the centre of the Amoy Gardens outbreak, where 22 of the estate's 42 deaths occurred - will forget March 31, 2003, when the government ordered their homes quarantined. A day later they were evacuated to two quarantine camps. The evacuees are now very close, often going out for meals together. But they were not always so friendly. Mr Yip, who stayed first at the Lei Yue Mun Park and Holiday Village before being moved to the Lady MacLehose Holiday Village in Sai Kung Country Park, says what he remembers most about his eight days away from home were the protests about conditions. One protest was over several households having to share a toilet. The Hospital authority says 158 former Sars patients have been diagnosed with serious bone degeneration called avascular necrosis, a rare condition linked to high steroid dosage. Block E resident Ah Shing, who is in his 30s, is one of them. Ah Shing says at first he did not understand why he was suffering from such a horrible bone disease. He kept recalling the time he had spent at United Christian Hospital two years ago, and the high doses of steroids he was given. But now he has accepted his fate. 'Compared with those who can't even walk because of the pain, I'm the lucky one,' he says. 'What else can I do but accept it?' Ah Shing has returned to his job as a mechanical maintenance worker after taking a year's rest, although now he can only do tasks that are less physically demanding. He earns much less than before as he can no longer work overtime. On top of that, there is the pain. 'From time to time I feel pain in my bones ... and I can't do vigorous exercise. I haven't played soccer for two years,' he says. Despite all this, Ah Shing never thinks of leaving. 'Block E is the cleanest place in the city, and we've already installed new pipes,' he says. In March last year, 242 out of the 264 households in Block E had new waste pipes installed. This followed a government investigation that suggested one of the causes of the spread of Sars had been the design of the U-bend pipes. A further 16 blocks will get new pipes in September to ensure a constant water flow to prevent the drains and pipes from drying up, Wilson Yip Hing-kwok, chairman of Amoy Garden Owners' Joint Committee, says.