Jamella Lo has passed away

Jamella Lo has passed away

The 19-year-old who was in urgent need of a lung transplant has died

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Jamella Mangali Lo (before she became ill) has passed the small window in which doctors say her life can be saved.

[UPDATE - 5.05pm, October 7]

RTHK reports that Jamello Lo, 19, who was in urgent need of a double lung transplant, has died.


[UPDATE - 2.37pm, October 6]

Dying 19-year-old Jamella Mangali Lo has been waiting for an organ donation for more than two weeks, and has now passed the small window in which doctors said her life could be saved.

Jamella remained in critical and unstable condition at Queen Mary Hospital as a spokeswoman said today she is now too weak to undergo a double lung transplant, without which a doctor said she would die.

“Even if a pair of new lungs finally come by, it is not likely that she can go through the transplantation as her condition now is too unstable,” the spokeswoman said.

The girl discovered only last month that she had primary pulmonary hypertension, a condition that affects just three or four people in Hong Kong a year.

On September 27, Lo’s family made an emotional appeal to the public hoping someone would donate the organs of a deceased loved one to help the patient, after doctors said Lo might have as little as 48 hours to live.

Jamella Lo (Left) with her mother Imelda Lo.


Lo’s situation briefly became more stable after two days as she continued to wait for an organ donation for almost two weeks, but with no luck.

Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man had made repeated appeals asking the public to donate the organs from their deceased family to save Lo’s life.

Dr Timmy Au Wing-kuk, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Queen Mary, said that a double-lung donation was always hard to come by.

For around every 10 organ donation cases, only five to six pairs of lungs are fit for transplantation. The tissue had to fit Lo’s blood type, be free of pneumonia and infection, and be in good working condition.

Au said 11 lung transplants had been conducted in Hong Kong this year, more than usual. The Department of Health’s website showed that 22 patients were on the waiting list for lung transplants as of last year.


[UPDATE - 12.42pm, October 2]

Jamella Lo, 19, remains in critical condition and urgently needs a double lung transplant to keep her alive, health secretary Dr Ko Wing-man said today.

The condition of the teenager has improved slightly after doctors at Queen Mary Hospital successfully cleared her left lung of fluid on Thursday. Her right lung has also stopped bleeding, Ko told DBC radio on Friday.

“Her condition is now relatively more stable but she still remains in critical condition,” Ko said. 

At one point Lo’s condition was so dire that doctors considered transplanting a single right lung to save her.

Ko said today that a double lung transplant would be her best option. 

Dr Ko made his comments this morning on DBC radio.
Photo: Jonathan Wong/SCMP

 


[UPDATE - 11.10am, September 30]

Doctors at QueenMaryHospital say they will consider transplanting a single right lung – instead of a pair of lungs – for the first time to save a dying 19-year-old in urgent need of an organ donation.

The girl, Jamella Mangali Lo, remained in critical condition at the Pok Fu Lam hospital last night, two days after her mother made a tearful plea for a donor to come forward within 48 hours.

Lo discovered only this month that she had primary pulmonary hypertension, a condition that affects just three or four people in Hong Kong a year and for which a double lung transplant was the only solution.

But Dr Timmy Au Wing-kuk, chief of organ surgery at Queen Mary, said Lo’s condition was so serious that he would consider for the first time transplanting just one side of the lungs.

“The hospital has never seen a patient critical enough to consider transplanting just one side of the lungs,” Au said. “But since Lo’s right lung is filled with blood and at risk of infection, I would not rule out doing that … if we only have one side of lung deemed fit for her.”

The lung must come from a deceased donor, as Au dismissed the possibility of a live donation.

Only about 20 hospitals worldwide have performed live lung donations – meaning a living donor giving away part of his lungs to a patient – but most cases were from adults to children, which required only a small portion of the organ.

Au said the hospital had to turn down two people who wanted to donate a portion of their lungs to Lo, saying the city lacked sufficient medical expertise to perform such a donation between adults.

Jamella's secondary school classmates came to Queen Mary Hospital to visit her but could not get into the ward.
Photo: Elizabeth Cheng


But in Britain, some adult-to-adult transplants have been done, according to a 2013 British medical journal article. Two women aged 25 and 34 received lungs partly donated by their relatives and friends, and have been living for more than 10 years with well-functioning lungs.

“We thanked the members of the public for their concern and eagerness to help, but we cannot carry out such a donation since the donor is at risk of dying from the procedure,” Au said.

He stressed that for Lo, a double-lung donation from a deceased donor was still the best option, but admitted the organ was hard to come by.

For around every 10 organ donation cases, only five to six pairs of lungs are fit for transplant.

The tissue has to be free of pneumonia and infection, and be in good working condition.

Au also said the hospital believed Lo was too weak to undertake two alternative treatments suggested by Canadian experts, which include hooking her up with a new heart-lung machine by connecting it directly to one of the heart’s main veins.

[UPDATE - 2.05pm, September 29]

Doctors are battling to buy more time for a 19-year-old girl who needs a lifesaving double lung transplant within hours, as a surgeon revealed that offers from live donors to give up their lungs had been rejected.

The patient, Jamella Mangali Lo, remained in a critical but stable condition at Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam this morning, two days after her mother made a tearful plea for a donor to come forward within 48 hours. Lo discovered only earlier this month that she had primary pulmonary hypertension, a condition that only affects three or four Hong Kong people a year, and for which a transplant is the only solution.

Dr Timmy Au Wing-kuk, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at the hospital, said treatment to relieve Lo’s symptoms and extend the time she could wait was continuing.

“We are now using an artificial heart-lung machine, cardiac agents and antibiotics. Her right lung is still filled with blood, but bleeding has stopped. Now we have more time to wait,” Au said.

Heavy anaesthetic has been used to keep Lo from moving and reduce her oxygen consumption.

While two or three people earlier came forward offering to donate lungs to Lo, Au said technology for lung transplants from live donors was not mature enough yet and was therefore not an option in this case.

The case is one of several in recent months to shed light on Hong Kong’s extremely low organ donation rate.


The mother of a teenager who will die unless she receives a double lung transplant by tomorrow pleaded yesterday for a donor family to step forward and save her daughter's life.

"For those who have a good heart, please help my daughter," said a tearful Imelda Lo. "She's a very good daughter. I don't want to lose her."

Jamella Mangali Lo is one of three or four patients a year in Hong Kong who are afflicted by primary pulmonary hypertension, a condition for which there is no specific cause.

Dr Timmy Au Wing-kuk of Queen Mary Hospital said they had 48 hours to save her.

Half of all patients die because of the lack of a suitable transplant donor.

"The death rate of this operation is 30 per cent, and even if it was a success, there could be multiple organ failure," said Au, chief of service of the department of cardiothoracic surgery at the Pok Fu Lam hospital.

"But there is no other option - if there is no lung transplant, the death rate is 100 per cent."

Jamella, a hospitality and catering student at the Institute of Vocational Education, heads the city's waiting list for a lung transplant.

She briefly slipped into critical condition on Saturday soon after being transferred from Grantham Hospital in Wong Chuk Hang and is now hooked up to a heart-lung machine that is keeping her alive.

The teenager's lungs failed all of a sudden early this month when she was in Zhejiang province for a school trip. On the third day of the trip on September 2, Lo was sent to Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital in Hangzhou for treatment and was back receiving treatment at Tseung Kwan O Hospital a week later.


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Au did not believe the rapid worsening of Jamella's situation was due to any misdiagnosis or delay in treatment either on the mainland or in Hong Kong.

Timely discovery of the condition was difficult, Au said, as symptoms such as shortness of breath were common and early identification required a series of tests beyond the scope of a routine physical check-up.

Au said 11 lung transplants had been conducted in Hong Kong so far this year, more than usual. The Department of Health's website showed that 22 patients were on the waiting list for lung transplants as of last year.

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1 comment

Susan Ramsay

13:48pm

It's quite strange that even at this late stage, people are worrying about getting a diseased lung. Surely if it is a matter of life and death, any lung would be better than none.