Hong Kong News

Nonpartisan, Noncommercial, unconstrained.
Sunday, Jun 23, 2024

In national first, Hong Kong baby girl receives donated heart from mainland China

In national first, Hong Kong baby girl receives donated heart from mainland China

Cleo Lai undergoes operation after National Health Commission finds heart belonging to mainland child who succumbed to severe head injury on Friday.

A four-month-old girl suffering from heart failure has undergone a transplant in Hong Kong with a donated organ from mainland China in the first arrangement of its kind in the city.

In an unprecedented move, the National Health Commission helped to secure the heart for the city resident, and hospital authorities on Saturday said they might turn to the mainland to secure life-saving organs again in the future.

Cleo Lai Tsz-hei underwent the operation earlier in the day at Hong Kong Children’s Hospital after the Human Organ Transplant Board, a statutory body under the Department of Health, approved the donation, authorities said.

Cleo suffered from dilated cardiomyopathy, a disease that caused the walls of her heart to thin and stretch, enlarging the organ and making it difficult to pump blood around her body. She underwent an operation in October, but when her condition did not improve, her mother and the doctors treating her made an urgent public appeal for a donor.

Cleo’s mother appeals for a heart donor for her daughter last month.

With time running out, the Hospital Authority contacted the National Health Commission, which found a heart belonging to a mainland child who succumbed to a severe head injury on Friday.

“This is a special case because it is very difficult to identify a suitable heart to be transplanted into a four-month old girl in Hong Kong,” said Simon Tang Yiu-hang, the authority’s director for cluster services. “And so that’s why out of goodwill, the National Health Commission used their robust mechanism and helped to identify the right organ for our four-month-old child.”

Heart donations are rare in Hong Kong – only eight such transplants were carried out last year, down from a peak of 17 in 2018, while 73 people remain on the waiting list, according to the authority.

Dr Robin Chen, who leads surgeries at Children’s Hospital, described the operation as smooth and said Cleo’s new heart was functioning well for now, although she would remain in the intensive care unit.

“Cleo has been in a critical stage and recently her condition has been worsening,” he said. “Without a heart transplant, it could have been life-threatening at any time.”

Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu thanked the health teams involved on both sides of the border, as well as police, firefighters and immigration officers, for ensuring the donated heart was transported quickly to the hospital.

“Even though both places have their own approval procedures, they accelerated the procedures in accordance with the law to ensure the speedy transport of the organ to Hong Kong,” he wrote on his official blog.

(From left) The Children’s Hospital’s Dr Robin Chen, hospital chief executive Dr Lee Tsz-leung, the Hospital Authority’s Dr Simon Tang and the hospital’s Dr Nicholson Yam.

Children’s Hospital chief executive Dr Lee Tsz-leung conveyed the appreciation of Cleo’s parents.

“The parents also thanked the donor’s family for giving their daughter a chance to be reborn, as well as the mainland and Hong Kong authorities for the arrangement,” Lee said.

While organs are regularly transported across borders around the world, in the European Union for example, Hong Kong and the mainland have until now maintained separate networks for matching patients with donors.

Beijing has been accused by human rights groups and lawyers in the past of forcibly harvesting organs from inmates, including political prisoners. For years, mainland hospitals were forced to rely on their own connections to find donations, which opened the system to abuse, but in 2013 the central government introduced a centralised computer database to regulate the process and two years later banned taking organs from executed prisoners.

But concerns over the source of organs persist. The International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation, an organisation that counts more than 3,700 medical practitioners from over 45 countries, issued a statement in April saying organ donations from the mainland should not be accepted.

While the hospital that carried out Cleo’s operation does not belong to the society, Queen Mary Hospital, a local leader in organ transplants, is a member.

One source in the medical field said that as a result of Cleo’s operation, Hong Kong could lose the link to the international body, which provided access to advanced transplant technologies.

“If we violate its policy guidelines, Hong Kong may be expelled from [the society]. Then we can never attend heart and lung transplantation international conferences or present any academic papers or research work,” the insider said. “Also Western countries will stop the exchange of advanced technologies regarding heart and lung transplant with Hong Kong hospitals.”

But the Hospital Authority’s Tang emphasised Cleo’s new heart was donated in accordance with relevant regulations on both the mainland and in Hong Kong.

“The whole thing is totally legal, fair and responsible,” he said. “We should be grateful for the organ transplant.”

In a statement issued by Health Bureau in the evening, a spokesman said the authority had ensured the transplant met international standards. The certification for the importation of the organ also contained all information required by law, he said.

Tang did not rule out using donated organs from the mainland for residents in critical need in the future.

“We treasure life and we follow all the rules and regulations,” he said. “In recent years, the number of transplants has dropped due to the pandemic. We will explore different ways to carry out more transplants.”

Tang also dismissed the suggestion that cross-border donation of organs would affect Hong Kong’s global standing.

“We don’t think that it will damage our international reputation. Our task is very simple – to help the four-month-old child. Without a heart transplant, she may not survive,” he said.

“Mainland China’s transplantation standards have been highly recognised by the World Health Organization … We think this is a good thing and people should be glad about it because we’ve made a successful surgery.”


Related Articles

Hong Kong News
It's always the people with the dirty hands pointing their fingers
Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
Steve Jobs' Son Launches Venture Capital Firm With $200 Million For Cancer Treatments
Google reshuffles Assistant unit, lays off some staffers, to 'supercharge' products with A.I.
End of Viagra? FDA approved a gel against erectile dysfunction
UK sanctions Russians judges over dual British national Kara-Murza's trial
US restricts visa-free travel for Hungarian passport holders because of security concerns
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Political leader from South Africa, Julius Malema, led violent racist chants at a massive rally on Saturday
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
'I am not your servant': IndiGo crew member, passenger get into row over airline meal
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Spanish Citizenship Granted to Iranian chess player who removed hijab
US Senate Republican Mitch McConnell freezes up, leaves press conference
Speaker McCarthy says the United States House of Representatives is getting ready to impeach Joe Biden.
San Francisco car crash
This camera man is a genius
3D ad in front of Burj Khalifa
Next level gaming
BMW driver…
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The politician and the journalist lost control and started fighting on live broadcast.
The future of sports
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
Joe Biden admitted, in his own words, that he delivered what he promised in exchange for the $10 million bribe he received from the Ukraine Oil Company.
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
The Last Pour: Anchor Brewing, America's Pioneer Craft Brewer, Closes After 127 Years
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
BBC Anchor Huw Edwards Hospitalized Amid Child Sex Abuse Allegations, Family Confirms
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Distorted Mirror of actual approval ratings: Examining the True Threat to Democracy Beyond the Persona of Putin
40,000 child slaves in Congo are forced to work in cobalt mines so we can drive electric cars.