19-year-old lung patient Jamella Lo has died

19-year-old lung patient Jamella Lo has died

Student captured the hearts of Hongkongers as she waited for double organ transplant ... alas, in vain


Rest in peace, Jamella Lo.
Photo: SCMP pictures

Sources say the teenage lung-patient Jamella Mangali Lo has died. The 19 year old captured the hearts of Hongkongers as she lay at death’s door, awaiting a pair of lungs for transplant. Her condition was such that doctors were unable to use a living donor.

On Tuesday, doctors at Queen Mary Hospital said she had passed the small window of opportunity to receive a pair of lungs, and that no donor lungs had been found. Her plight highlighted the need for citizens to consider donating their organs when they die.

Jamella only discovered last month that she had primary pulmonary hyptertension, meaning blood was pumping at very high pressure through her lungs. This is a rare disease and no one knows what really causes it. It affects only three or four people each year in Hong Kong.

A timeline of Jamella Lo's last days

Jamella was a hospitality and catering student at the Institute of Vocational Education. Her lungs failed suddenly early last 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 SirRunRunShawHospital in Hangzhou for treatment and was back receiving treatment at TseungKwanOHospital a week later.

In the last few days, Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man had appealed repeatedly for members of the public to donate the organs of deceased family members to save Lo’s life.

But Dr Timmy Au Wing-kuk, the hospital’s chief of cardiothoracic surgery, said a double-lung donation was always hard to come by.

For about every 10 organ donation cases, only five to six pairs of lungs were fit for transplant. The lungs not only had to fit the recipient’s blood type and be in good working condition, but also had to be free of pneumonia and infection.

Au said Lo’s condition was "slowly going downhill" and that it was "very, very unlikely" she would undergo transplant surgery as "she is too ill now".

He said 11 lung transplants had been conducted this year.


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