18 February 2019
Choi Man-chiu's sister (standing) and her mother at a news conference Sunday to discuss their concerns over Choi's medical treatment and subsequent death in 2009. Photo: HKEJ
Choi Man-chiu's sister (standing) and her mother at a news conference Sunday to discuss their concerns over Choi's medical treatment and subsequent death in 2009. Photo: HKEJ

Family of deceased kidney patient to appeal ruling on doctor

The family of a kidney disease patient who died in 2009 due to suspected medical blunder said it plans to appeal a ruling by the Medical Council to clear a doctor of professional misconduct charges. 

Bringing up the issue of Choi Man-chiu, a case that has drawn comparisons to the recent medical blunder in the city that affected liver transplant patient Tang Kwai-sze, the deceased’s family has made it clear that it is not happy with authorities’ decision to absolve Choi’s doctor of blame.  

At a press conference on Sunday, Choi’s sister came forward to reveal details surrounding the death of her younger brother and how the tragedy has affected the surviving family members. 

Choi could have lost his life eight years ago, at the age of 42, as his doctor, a person surnamed Wong, prescribed high dosage of steroids despite Choi’s medical history of Hepatitis B, according to the family.

Choi was diagnosed with Chronic Glomerulonephritis since he was ten, and had been a patient at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. He was treated by nephrologist Wong since 2001.

The doctor gave Choi steroids for almost four months since September 2008, despite knowing that Choi was a Hepatitis B virus carrier, the family alleges.

When abnormalities were observed on Choi’s liver functions in January the following year, Wong then prescribed him with anti-viral drugs and reduced the dosage of steroids.

Unfortunately, Choi passed away in late February 2009 while awaiting a liver transplant surgery.

After Choi’s shocking death, his father had to be on anti-depressants and was said to have developed signs of dementia, while his mother had a stroke and was crippled since.

Choi’s family had complained to the Medical Council about Wong’s suspected negligence as a doctor. But the nephrologist was cleared of his charges in a ruling at the beginning of the year.

According to Pang Hung-cheung from the Hong Kong Social Workers Association, Choi’s family has already appealed against the decision and is hoping to seek a judicial review.

As to the recent liver failure case of Tang Kwai-sze, transplant surgeon and University of Hong Kong professor Lo Chung-mau says the woman’s fungal infection is gradually under control, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Tang’s daughter Michelle made a video for her mom to commemorate Mother’s Day. In the video, Michelle’s younger sister could be seen singing a song for Tang.

The United Christian Hospital (UCH) had earlier come under fire for delay in the disclosure of a medical blunder that led to the serious deterioration of Tang’s condition.

Tang, 43, was in a critical condition at the Queen Mary Hospital last week after suffering from acute liver failure that required two liver transplants.

The UCH doctors had failed to prescribe Tang with antiviral drugs to go with the steroid being given to treat her mild kidney condition, although it was stated clearly on her medical records that she is a Hepatitis B virus carrier.

The steroid treatment had made the patient more prone to infections, but the antiviral drugs could have worked to prevent such infections.

The UCH staff failed to disclose the medical blunder, and only did so after the patient’s daughter, Michelle, demanded on April 19 to know why her mother’s health had suddenly deteriorated.

After the Tang medical blunder, there were 247 cancellations in organ donations from May 6 to 11, the Department of Health revealed. The cancellations are 1.5 times more than those seen in the first quarter of 2017.

Transplant surgeon Lo expressed disappointment over the developments, saying patients awaiting organ transplants should not have to suffer the consequences.

Meanwhile, there are reports that there was another medical blunder, this one involving the Princess Margaret Hospital.

According to reports, a 19-year-old girl with kidney failure fell victim to a problematic procedure during an ultrasound scan last month.

It is suspected that doctors made a mistake during the procedure, resulting in the young girl having a stroke after medical personnel mistakenly put an ultrasound tube into her vein.

Representatives from the hospital will meet with the family next week to explain the medical situation related to the patient, who is now being monitored in an intensive care unit.

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