Donor set for home as liver patient critical

Local | Carain Yeung Apr 20, 2017
A mother who received a liver transplant last week remains in a critical condition at Queen Mary Hospital, while the donor who gave two-thirds of her liver is expected to go home tomorrow.

Tang Kwai-sze, 43, at one stage opened her eyes and showed a reaction but she has not yet regained consciousness, liver expert Lo Chung-mau told a radio program.

"She is relying on breathing machines and dialysis as she has kidney failure. Her liver has not fully recovered and therefore her condition involves multiple organ failure," Lo said, adding that Tang is still receiving intensive care in the hospital.

Lo, who is also head of the hospital's Liver Transplant Centre, said his team has seen patients who recovered from a worse condition. A pre-operation assessment estimated the success rate for Tang's liver transplant to be about 90 percent, Lo said, and this is higher than the global figure of about 70 percent for such urgent cases.

Tang underwent a transplant last Thursday but needed more surgery three days later to fix a blood vessel problem.

Lo said it is not rare that organ transplant patients need another operation but admitted that it means that the procedure was not entirely smooth.

Momo Cheng, the 26-year-old clerk who donated two-thirds of her liver to save Tang's life, is recovering well and can now eat and walk on her own.

He described Cheng as having a strong mind and great determination to help and the hospital will provide lifelong physical and mental support for the donor.

It is expected that Cheng will be discharged tomorrow, according to Kelvin Ng Kwok-chai, associate professor at University of Hong Kong's hepatobiliary and pancreatic surgery division.

Stitches can be removed within 14 days and Cheng will just be like any other healthy person by then, Ng said after visiting her yesterday afternoon. He also said Cheng will have to avoid overworking herself in the coming month or two.

Organ donation involving a living donor is not without controversy, as Lo said: "Should a doctor perform such a major operation on a healthy person?"

He said discussions in society for a law change to enable Tang's underage daughter Michelle to be a donor had gone too far and put huge pressure on the 17-year-old, which deprived her the right to walk away from a donation even if she wanted to.

While he is not against discussion about discretion in future cases, Lo said there will be medical ethics issues.

Raising examples of execution difficulties, Lo said the hospital has to get consent from guardians for any procedures involving minors while a potential living donor is usually briefed individually to make sure the decision is independent and that the donor can withdraw at anytime.

The Hong Kong Paediatric Foundation said: "Any legal or political means by local authorities to move the effective age of adulthood is ethically and morally inadvisable and should not be compelled."

It said all minors should be protected from unnecessary harm and they may not be mature enough to make independent judgment for decisions that involve pressure and "distinct ethical concerns," such as organ donation to family members.



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