Mother prays for new heart for 13-month-old son

January 03, 2019 17:00
The parents of 13-month-old Hui Chi-hoi appeal for a heart donation for their son. Photo: Handout via HKEJ

The mother of a 13-month-old boy with a congenital heart defect is making a public plea for a heart donation to save her son's life.

The baby, Hui Chi-hoi, was diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy, a disease in which the walls of the heart are so rigid that it is prevented from stretching properly and pumping blood.

Chi-hoi’s mother said her son looked healthy after he was born in November 2017, but was diagnosed with the incurable heart condition six months after.

The baby recently caught a flu and his condition deteriorated. He was transferred from Tseung Kwan O Hospital to Queen Mary Hospital in early December.

His elder brother died of the same condition, which was traced to a genetic mutation, in 2016 at the age of only seven months, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

QMH suggested in July last year that a heart transplant is necessary, but so far there has been no donation.

As such, Chi-hoi remains in critical condition, battling for survival as his other organs started to fail.

The mother, an English-language teacher, is now praying for a miracle, that the heart of a deceased child will be donated for her son.

She said such a donation will allow two lives to continue.

Dr. Lun Kin-shing, a consultant at QMH’s Department of Pediatric Cardiology, said children who suffer from restrictive cardiomyopathy normally do not show any symptoms. Once they are infected with viruses, the disease would be induced.

Lun said a heart transplant is the only way to save the baby, who is the youngest patient ever involved in a public plea for a heart donation in Hong Kong.

He admitted that it would be very difficult to get a heart from a dead child locally since child mortality rate in the city is quite low.

The donor must also meet several requirements, including having the same blood type O as Chi-hoi’s, a weight between eight to 15 kilograms as Chi-hoi weighs 10kg, and not having contracted cancer or highly contagious diseases.

According to Lun, a six-year-old had a heart transplant in 2009 from a deceased child whose family agreed to donate their child’s heart.

But two other children with heart ailments died between the age of two and three as they did not live wait long enough to receive a heart transplant, the doctor said.

Dr. Timmy Au Wing-kuk, chief of the QMH cardiothoracic surgery division, said the priority is to find a heart for Chi-hoi locally before seeking help from hospitals in neighboring countries or regions can be considered.

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