Community & Education Environment & Health Hong Kong

Dying mother receives liver from donor after daughter, 17, is told she is too young to help

A patient in intensive care is receiving a liver donation from an unrelated Hongkonger, after the patient’s own daughter was unable to donate hers because she was underage.

Tang Kwai-sze, 43, has been suffering from acute liver failure and remains at the Queen Mary Hospital.

Her daughter Michelle is 17 years and nine months old – three months short of her 18th birthday when she could have voluntarily donated her own liver, in accordance with the Human Organ Transplant Ordinance.

organ donation transplant

Tang Kwai-sze (left) Michelle (right). Photo: Apple Daily.

Tang’s situation had worsened and she was unable to communicate.

Michelle, who was speaking on a Commercial Radio programme on Thursday morning, said that she hoped the public would be more aware of organ donation: “Not only could my own family benefit from it, but thousands of families could be helped so that they have an opportunity to live again.”

Physical and psychological checks

Alex Lam Chi-yau, chairman of the Hong Kong Patients’ Voices helping the family, said on the programme he had written to the Hospital Authority urging them to consider allowing Michelle’s donation. She had been undergoing physical and psychological checks to ensure she was a suitable donor.

Lam said that if Michelle was a suitable match, they may have considered legal action to ask for permission from a court. But a limiting factor was the long holiday starting on Friday, meaning courts will be closed.

“Age is not the most important factor to confirm whether a person is mature enough,” said Michelle in a phone call with public broadcaster RTHK, shortly before she received a surprise call from the hospital.

Donation

At 11am on Thursday, the Hospital Authority said that Queen Mary Hospital had received a partial liver donation from a person, which will be given to Tang, who was at the top of the waiting list.

The hospital immediately conducted checks and the operation is underway. It is expected to last six to seven hours.

Queen Mary Hospital

Queen Mary Hospital. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Hospital Authority thanked the donor for their selfless act and urged the public to continue their support for organ donation.

Democratic Party lawmaker Roy Kwong Chun-yu voiced support for possible donations made by underage people who are physically and psychologically suitable.

He said that there was no absolute age limit in England and Wales, and that hospitals there consider a series of factors.

Kwong said he would raise the issue at the Legislative Council and hoped the government would review the law.

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Dying mother receives liver from donor after daughter, 17, is told she is too young to help