Hong Kong health care and hospitals

Hong Kong plastic surgeon arrested for female banker’s suspected Botox death was previously suspended over liposuction fatality

  • Dr Franklin Li, 86, was struck off register by Medical Council over blunder in 2003 procedure
  • Latest case involves top female banker Zoe Cheung, 52, who received 16 injections to her jaw, chin and above her brow
PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 November, 2018, 10:51am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 November, 2018, 1:59pm

A veteran Hong Kong plastic surgeon arrested after a top female banker died following Botox injections was previously suspended for five months over the death of another patient.

A medical industry representative said the death on Monday of Zoe Cheung Shuk-ling, 52, the managing director of Swiss private bank Julius Bär, could have been the city’s first Botox fatality, and called for dosage rules on the treatment.

Dr Franklin Li Wang-pong, 86, was taken into custody on Monday for allegedly breaking rules on the use of dangerous drugs. He was earlier struck off the register over a fatal liposuction procedure in 2003.

Cheung was certified dead at 9.42am on Monday after collapsing at Li’s clinic inside the Grand Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui at 5pm the previous day.

A police source said Cheung, a regular customer at the clinic, received about 16 shots of Botox to her jaw, chin and above her brow.

This is the third investigation into cases of suspected Botox poisoning this month.


The source said Li initially told officers Cheung went to his clinic for her asthma without an appointment, and that she collapsed after taking medication. But he gave a different account after being questioned.

“He then admitted she went for a Botox appointment and that she suddenly passed out after the treatment,” the insider said.

Li was arrested later, after Cheung died, over the main allegation and on suspicion of misleading police. On Monday night, Li was sent to Queen Elizabeth Hospital after feeling unwell.

We are investigating if she collapsed due to asthma or the Botox injections

The Post understands that after his arrest the doctor remained silent, and had a lawyer present.

“She is indeed an asthma patient according to medical records. We are investigating if she collapsed due to asthma or the Botox injections,” the source said.

Lam Yuen-ling, chief inspector of Yau Tsim district, said officers found dangerous drugs in the clinic and that the clinic did not keep a register of drug quantities it held, as required by law.

William Chui Chun-ming, president of the Society of Hospital Pharmacists, said the drugs manufacturer had warned doctors to use the neuro toxins on asthmatic patients with “extreme caution” as it could cause breathing problems.

“Toxins could enter the bloodstream. They then constrain respiratory muscles and cause respiratory failure,” Chui said.

“The doctor has the duty to ask the patient for a medical record. If the patient is asthmatic, the doctor should not inject too many toxins in one go and should adjust the dosage.”

“This could be the city’s first Botox fatality, as I remember. The government should regulate dosages on Botox treatments,” Chui said.

In 2003, Li performed liposuction on piano teacher Lam King-fong, 70, who collapsed during the procedure at his clinic and died soon after. The coroner concluded she died as a result of misadventure.

The Medical Council, an independent body that regulates local doctors, struck Li’s name off the practitioners’ register for five months after finding him guilty of professional misconduct on three charges in 2009.

There is no retirement age for Hong Kong doctors. They can practise in the city as long as their name is on the register.

Botox, or botulinum toxin, was initially used for medical purposes, but is now more frequently applied in cosmetic procedures to prevent wrinkles or to slim targeted areas by paralysing muscles.

Probe launched as second Botox blunder case revealed in two days

On November 1, a 41-year-old woman fell ill after receiving Botox injections in both calves at her home from a mainland Chinese beautician. She experienced weakness, a hoarse throat and had difficulty swallowing.

The following day, a 24-year-old woman was admitted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital after she had Botox injected in her face at a Tsim Sha Tsui salon. She felt weak, dizzy and nauseous, and was short of breath.