15 November 2018
Doctors at Queen Mary Hospital were unable to help Jamella Lo in the absence of a donated lung. Photos: HKEJ, Commercial Radio
Doctors at Queen Mary Hospital were unable to help Jamella Lo in the absence of a donated lung. Photos: HKEJ, Commercial Radio

Teen dies after plea for lung donation falls on deaf ears

A 19-year-old girl desperately in need of a lung transplant died at Queen Mary Hospital (QMH) on Wednesday, Apple Daily reported Thursday.

Jamella Lo had been waiting for a new lung after being stricken with primary pulmonary hypertension during a school trip to mainland China.

Lo’s father made a public plea on Sept. 27 for the donation of a lung from a deceased person’s body.

QMH cardiothoracic surgery chief Dr. Au Wing-kuk said the call was never answered.

Au said two people, however, had offered to donate half of their lungs.

QMH did not take up their offers, as the methods for transporting lungs from living donors are not at an advanced level in Hong Kong, he said.

Au said Lo’s condition deteriorated over the last few days, but she passed away peacefully and without much pain.

He said the medical team was saddened by her death.

Lo had been kept alive by a heart and lung machine since the beginning of last month, when she returned from the mainland.

Her father, holding back his tears, thanked the media for helping to spread the news of her plight.

He said Lo’s mother was devastated by the loss and would discuss the funeral arrangements with family.

Lo’s elder brother said in a text reply to the media, “All I want to say is that, I love my sister so much.”

He said Lo was not just a sister but also his best friend.

Associate consultant Dr. Michael Hsin Kuan-yew said he hoped the incident will arouse public awareness and lead people to reflect on the city’s conservative culture when it comes to organ donation.

An international survey shows 36 in a million people in Spain are organ donors, 27 per million in the United States, and 20.4 per million in Britain.

However, only 5.4 per million Hongkongers are organ donors.

In Singapore, it is assumed that a person wishes to donate his or her organs after death, unless he or she makes a formal statement when alive that he or she does not wish to do so.

However, Chau Ka-foon, former chairman of the Hong Kong Society of Transplantation, said the implementation of mandatory organ donation should not be rushed in Hong Kong, given that the culture looks upon it unfavorably.

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