Thursday, November 26, 2015   

New lease of life for 'lucky' few patients

Hilary Wong

Monday, February 24, 2014


A former pest control worker says he was lucky to have a lung transplant just as he was on the verge of giving up.

Siu Kwok-yan, 49, waited four years from when his lung function deteriorated in 2009 until a donor was found and he had the transplant last November.

The chance to get a lung transplant is much rarer than that for a liver or a heart, he said, adding "there are less than four cases every year, sometimes even none." Siu was among 150 organ recipients who attended a thanksgiving assembly yesterday at the Hospital Authority headquarters in Mong Kok.

Siu believes his lungs were affected when he worked in pest control from 2005 to 2009. He often had direct contact with or inhaled hazardous pesticides.

"In 2009, I began to tire easily and often had green phlegm," he said. His lung function was down to 20 percent and he did not think he would survive for long. He then had a second lease of life.

"I am so grateful to the donor and the donor's family. Although I was still in the intensive care unit after the transplant surgery, I felt the air was fresh because I could live again."

As Siu spoke, he held his wife's hand, saying: "I will work hard for life and family."

Meanwhile, Ng Ngai-wah, 44, said his unhealthy lifestyle while working as a cross-boundary coach driver for 13 years led to heart failure in 2011.

"I often smoked and was addicted to alcohol. I worked for 19 hours every day. My heart deteriorated quickly and I easily became tired even when walking up a few steps," he said.

Despite his illness, Ng said he signed an organ donation card as he wanted to help other patients after his death.

Receiving the transplantation depends on luck. Many die before they can even get a transplant," he said.

To his surprise, a donor heart was found and he had the transplant in June last year.

Over 120 organ transplants were carried out last year, thanks to 70 donors, the Hong Kong Society of Transplantation said.

Chan See-ching, president of the society and also chief of liver transplantation at Queen Mary Hospital, said that people donated their heart, liver, lung, kidney, cornea, skin and bone.

"One organ, one life, one family," he said, adding the decision to donate an organ could significantly change one's family.

Hospital Authority figures show that from 2006 until last year, there were 1,991 people waiting for a kidney, 120 for liver, 17 for heart, 18 for lung and 500 for a cornea.

Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man urged the public to support organ donation. "For kidney donation, only 80 transplants were done last year which was very low."

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