MTR chief tells of happy end to Aussie trip health scare

Top News | Staff reporter 15 Apr 2019

MTR Corp Ltd chairman Frederick Ma Si-hang says his recent personal experience in hospital in Australia highlights the need for importing experienced foreign doctors.

Ma, 66, recalled an episode when he almost died during a family to Australia earlier this year. He said it started when he felt slightly uncomfortable, which he brushed off as "no big deal," thinking he just needed rest.

But the unpleasantness built up so his son-in-law, who is a doctor, took him to hospital for a check. The doctor could not detect any problems after a thorough examination.

A few hours after he left hospital, Ma's condition deteriorated. The discomfort grew more and had a high fever. His son-in-law insisted they go back to hospital.

Doctors were surprised to find his systolic blood pressure was as low as 50 millimeters mercury, when it should be around 120 millimeters mercury in normal conditions.

His heart rate was as high as 140 beats per minute when it should be between 60 to 100 in normal circumstances.

The doctor said he was in a critical condition. After further comprehensive examination, Ma was diagnosed with sepsis - a life-threatening condition triggered by bacterial infection in the blood, which was caused by inflammatory response in his gallbladder.

Ma said the doctor - a Malaysian - was decisive and immediately arranged surgery to remove his whole gallbladder.

He said after the operation, the bacterial infection was controlled and he recovered after staying in the hospital for a week.

He told reporters that he deemed himself to be very lucky as he could have died if his condition deteriorated in the middle of a long-haul flight, or if he was in a less developed country with a poorer medical system.

Ma said Australia - like Singapore - imports many foreign doctors.

He said he was also surprised with the hospital bill - US$10,000 (HK$78,000). The surgery fee was only equivalent to HK$13,000. He said he might have paid a few times more if he had the operation in Hong Kong.

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