Blunder led to liver transplant need, doctors fear

Blunder led to liver transplant need, doctors fear
United Christian Hospital says a mistake by doctors there may have caused liver damage to Tang Kwai-sze. File photo: RTHK

United Christian Hospital says a mistake by doctors there may have caused liver damage to Tang Kwai-sze. File photo: RTHK

Doctors admitted on Tuesday that a mother whose liver transplant woes caught the attention of the Hong Kong public last month may only have needed the surgery because of a hospital blunder.

United Christian Hospital said medical personnel at its nephrology clinic failed to give 43-year-old Tang Kwai-sze proper preventative medication to deal with her hepatitis B, at the same time as she was given heavy doses of steroids to treat kidney issues in January.

The absence of the hepatitis medication may have caused her liver to fail, to the point where she needed a transplant, the hospital authorities said.

The hospital in Kwun Tong said a doctor failed to notice Tang has hepatitis, even though it is clearly stated on her medical records.

Tang, who’s still critically ill in intensive care, was re-admitted to United Christian Hospital on April 1 with acute hepatitis. Four days later, she was transferred to Queen Mary Hospital for a liver transplant assessment.

The chief executive of United Christian Hospital, Chui Tak-yi, said it was only the following day that doctors found out about the medication error, after reviewing her medical records.

He also admitted that Tang’s family were not informed of the blunder until April 19, almost two weeks after it was discovered, and only after the family went back to United Christian Hospital and asked to see the records on her treatment.

Chui bowed and apologised for the mistake. An independent investigation panel has been formed to look into the case, he said.

Tang’s plight grabbed the headlines last month after her underaged daughter was barred from becoming a donor. The daughter was months away from turning 18 – the minimum age for a donor.

A woman, who didn’t know the family, then came forward to donate part of her liver. Tang was given a second liver transplant, from a deceased donor, on April 20, after the first transplant was unsatisfactory.

Tang’s daughter, Michelle, said the hospital should have been upfront with the family over the medication error. She told reporters she would discuss with her relatives whether to seek compensation over the blunder.