Manila crisis survivor Yik Siu-ling still searching for answers from hospital

Hostage-crisis survivor remains unclear if public relations took priority over her care after meeting at Prince of Wales Hospital

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 January, 2014, 8:36pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 June, 2018, 5:54pm

Manila hostage-crisis survivor Yik Siu-ling said a meeting with Prince of Wales Hospital staff members had failed to answer her concerns over whether public relations had taken priority over her medical needs in the early days of her treatment.

The mother-of-one demanded the disclosure of the full set of e-mails in which her doctors and the chief executive of the Sha Tin hospital discussed the operation she underwent on her shattered jaw on September 13, 2010.

"There are still a lot of things they did not explain clearly," Yik said, accompanied by lawmaker James To Kun-sun, two lawyers and her twin sister, after yesterday's two-hour meeting.

"They did not address whether there was a political consideration [behind the delay to the operation]," the 37-year-old said.

Last month the South China Morning Post reported accusations by retired head of plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery Professor Andrew Burd that high-level hospital administrators had public-relations concerns ahead of Yik's treatment.

Yik's lower jaw was shattered on August 23, 2010, when she was shot in the face by gunman Rolando Mendoza as he killed eight Hongkongers on a tour bus.

Burd said he had wanted to operate on Yik on September 8, 2010, but was denied the chance.

A series of e-mails seen by the Post suggested that several hospital administrators, including Professor Paul Lai Bo-san, honorary chief of service and a consultant surgeon at Prince of Wales, expressed concern that rescheduling the operation sooner could attract negative media coverage.

The operation took place five days later, which Burd said led to "unnecessary suffering" for Yik.

She travelled to Taiwan on December 11 for surgery at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, after 33 operations in Hong Kong failed.

James To, after meeting Lai and Prince of Wales chief executive Dr Hung Chi-tim, said neither had disputed the authenticity of the e-mails, but argued they had been "taken out of context".

To said it was reasonable for Yik to demand the full disclosure of the e-mails, but said she had no plans yet to call for a public enquiry or to take legal action.

Last night, Burd dismissed the claims that the e-mails had been taken out of context.

"I express great dismay that the hospital administrators should continue their strategy of denial and delay. It's better to be honest," he said.

If hospital administrators believe the full set of e-mails will show the truth, then they should disclose them, Burd said. Like Yik, the Post has requested the disclosure of all e-mails.

Yesterday, Hung defended his hospital's position.

"All along, the whole team has taken [Yik's] interest as the top priority. Political reasons were not our concern," he said.

Lai told the media that decisions over Yik's care took into consideration her health and the fact a team had to build a model of her face - based on Yik's twin - before the operation could take place.