Hong Kong woman begs for a liver donor to save husband who is days away from death
Originally published at the South China Morning Post on October 15, 2016.
The wife of a retired school principal appealed to the public on Saturday for a liver donation to save her husband, who may have only two weeks to live.
Wu Man-ming, 60, former head of SKH Holy Trinity Church Secondary School in Ho Man Tin, has acute liver disease and is in dire need of a transplant.
Brother-in-law Stephen Chu Ka-fu said Wu was on the waiting list to receive an organ from a dead donor, while several relatives had offered live donations but were not suitable matches.
“I hope someone can help my husband and make a donation,” Stella Chu Lai-yee said. “I can’t live without him. I love and rely on him so much. In our lives, he is everything.”
Wu needs a live donation from someone aged 18 to 57 with blood type O positive. His relatives urged potential donors to go directly to Block K, room 16S, at Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam for a health check. Chu said people could also go online to see whether they were eligible to donate.
Wu headed the school at Oi Man Estate for nearly two decades before stepping down about six years ago. Chu said he was widely respected by former pupils, many of whom were upset by the news and had visited him.
His condition deteriorated rapidly last week and took his family by surprise as they thought he just had a cold when he went to see a doctor on Tuesday. He was referred to Kwong Wah Hospital in Yau Ma Tei that night, but his condition got worse on Friday and he was transferred to Queen Mary, where doctors said he would need a new liver to save his life.
“The doctor said he has already reached the worst stage. He’s in a lot of pain,” Chu said. “Right now he already can’t recognise us. He’s drifting in and out of consciousness.”
Chan Shin Kwan Mei Mei, who took over from Wu as school principal and visited him on Saturday night, said: “He has such vitality and is very warm. We’re all praying for him.”
The school posted a message on its website and Facebook page calling for donations and for community members to pray for Wu.
Meanwhile, a 10-year-old boy is waiting for a heart donation at the hospital. Tang Kai-him is suffering from life-threatening heart failure and requires an organ from a dead donor of similar size with blood type A positive within one or two weeks. Kai-him is 131cm tall and weighs 36kg.
Hong Kong has a notoriously low rate of organ donations. As of June there were about 98 patients waiting for a liver donation.
There are about 2,500 patients waiting for vital organs – including hearts, lungs and kidneys – at all times. Yet there were only 5.8 donors for every million residents last year, one of the lowest rates among developed cities.
At a ceremony on Saturday to launch the “Say Yes to Organ Donation” initiative encouraging people to register as donors, Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man said the government had stepped up efforts to promote donations through campaigns and established an organ donation promotion committee in April.
The government is also conducting a study on whether the city should adopt an opt-out scheme by legislation, making all Hongkongers potential donors unless they state otherwise.
Undersecretary for Food and Health Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee said there were about 225,000 registered organ donors in Hong Kong. She said on a TVB talk show that many Hongkongers actually wanted to donate their organs but had not taken the initiative to sign up.
Without registering to donate, she said, family members of brain-dead patients could face difficult decisions.
Brain-dead patients who are already registered organ donors do not need their family’s consent. But those who are not already registered need their family’s consent.
Additional reporting by Phila Siu
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: wife’s donor plea to save husband