Social welfare deputy boss fights for his life after suspected stroke

Top News | Erin Chan and Michael Shum 21 Jan 2021

Social welfare deputy director Lam Ka-tai is fighting for his life at Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital's intensive care unit after collapsing in his office yesterday.

The 59-year-old Lam, who remains in critical condition, is believed to have suffered a stroke.

At 8.08am, a staff member found the door to Lam's office open in the Social Welfare Department headquarters on the eighth floor of Wu Chung House in Wan Chai, sources said. He then found Lam unconscious on the floor but he was still breathing and had a pulse.

Lam was rushed to Ruttonjee Hospital in Wan Chai before being transferred to Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital at 2pm.

Two church friends were denied entry after they tried to visit Lam at Ruttonjee.

A department spokesman said it is highly concerned about Lam's condition and had contacted his family. "The department will not provide updates on Lam's condition due to privacy concerns," he said.

The government telephone directory online shows Lam is on leave from yesterday until February 19.

Lam has been with the department since 1987. From September 2010 to June 2012, he served as assistant director for subventions.

Between June 2012 and September 2013, he was assistant director in rehabilitation and medical social services. He has been deputy director for services since September 2013.

From December 21 last year to January 1, Lam served as the acting director of social welfare after Gordon Leung Chung-tai went on sabbatical leave.

Lawrence Wong Ka-sing, division head of neurology at Chinese University, said seniors aged 70 to 80 are usually at high risk of a stroke and Lam is relatively young.

"There are three major symptoms to look out for before a stroke - a shadow in their vision, a sudden feeling that their head is spinning and instability when walking. People should immediately visit a doctor if they find encounter these symptoms," Wong said.

"Those 50 or above should regularly undergo body checks [to see if they have] abnormalities in the blood vessels of the brain," he added.

Wong said patients with high blood pressure, diabetes, high blood lipid or heart problems also have a higher chance of a stroke.

Lawrence Pang Kai-mau, an emergency doctor, cited the "golden three hours" to save a stroke patient.

"There are two kinds of stroke, namely ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke," Pang said.

"Ischemic stroke means that blood vessels leading to the brain either contracted or are blocked. We will have to use hemolytic drugs within three hours to effectively rescue the patient."

Pang added: "For hemorrhagic stroke, it basically means the blood vessels leading to the brain burst. Medics will have to immediately identify the bleeding location and stop the pressure within the brain, making it tough to save them and leads to a high death rate."



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