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Wednesday, Jul 28, 2021

Li charity gives leg up for knee replacements

More patients may be able to receive knee replacement surgery at Precious Blood Hospital in Sham Shui Po thanks to the Li Ka Shing Foundation.
With HK$20 million from the foundation, the quota of 200 was filled soon after the hospital launched the program in January, so the foundation is considering adding more slots.

Under the Total Knee Replacement Surgery program, operations have already been performed on over 60 applicants less than two months since its launch, and the rest are expected to take place within six months.

"In view of the enthusiastic response, Li Ka Shing Foundation is actively considering adding more quotas to the program to benefit more patients," Precious Blood Hospital (Caritas) said yesterday.

The hospital said knee problems are common among the elderly, but that waiting times for surgery at public hospitals are long due to resource constraints and the time needed to cope with a large number of patients.

Data from the Hospital Authority shows that nearly 30,000 people are currently on the knee replacement waiting list, with waiting periods ranging from three to seven years - one of the longest among all specialties.

A surgeon under the program, Cheung Kin-wing, said unlike fractures and tumors, knee replacement surgery is not an emergency procedure. However, patients are advised to have it done as soon as possible.

Applicants under the program have to have a family income of less than HK$80,000 a month and have been waiting for the surgery in public hospitals for more than three years to be eligible.

They can receive a subsidy ranging from 75 percent to 100 percent of the surgery costs depending on their financial situation. The program also covers the cost of the artificial joints, hospital charges, laboratory tests, physiotherapy and post-discharge follow-up consultations.

The hospital said many patients chosen by the program are employed, middle-aged persons.

Chang Shuk-yin, who is under 60, completed her surgery under the program. She has been working as a caregiver for people with intellectual disabilities for 15 years, and her knee pain has seriously affected her work and life.

"I waited for seven to eight years at public hospitals and the surgery never came. I was told that I was not old enough and that the surgery had to be reserved for older patients. I am very grateful to Mr Li Ka-shing for the help I received through the Li Ka Shing Foundation," she said.

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