My Take

Hong Kong liver transplant expert Lo Chung-mau is a hero wrongly condemned as a villain

The professor’s expertise is recognised around the world, and he has saved countless lives, yet our activists focus on his benign role in university council

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 March, 2016, 10:45pm
UPDATED : Monday, 21 March, 2016, 10:45pm

We Hongkongers love to beat ourselves up. But every now and then, it’s worth pondering things that we do right – like having one of the world’s great liver transplant team of doctors at Queen Mary Hospital.

But for the efforts of Professor Lo Chung-mau and his team, a 39-year-old Canadian liver patient and father of three would have certainly died.

Mike Watson suffered from a serious liver condition that could kill in three months. However, his doctors in Canada told him he would have to wait six months for a transplant. The waiting list was a virtual death sentence.

But his enterprising wife, Lisa, started researching treatments around the world and found out about Hong Kong’s pioneering transplant expertise.

“There are a lot of people willing to become a donor, but the doctors in Canada told us Mike was too sick to undergo such surgery,” Lisa said. “They wouldn’t even give us a survival rate.”

Lo’s team was able to transplant a substantial portion of Lisa’s liver to her husband. Both have an excellent chance at recovery.

Lo is a pioneer in performing transplants from live donors. His expertise is recognised around the world.

People like Lo are our city’s treasures, but he is not being celebrated as such these days. Instead, trolls on the internet have attacked him mercilessly, while student activists have hounded him on campus.

This is because he was one of the members of the University of Hong Kong’s council that voted against hiring Johannes Chan Man-mun as the school’s pro-vice-chancellor for research and personnel last year.

Being a council member for a man of his scientific stature is clearly a thankless task. Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, HKU’s renowned virus hunter, saw the Red Guards were coming and wisely quit before the whole thing went out of hand.

Lo pressed on out of a sense of duty and was rewarded with public denunciation and character assassination. But you could hardly accuse him of being a Beijing stooge, when he was one of the least political persons on the council.

These days, there is no point for capable and meritorious people to take up public office because those little Red Guards will go after them unless they toe the “correct” political line.