Two patients at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin received organ donations from a deceased stroke patient who was found to have cancer, the government announced on Thursday. The incident is the the second medical blunder of its kind this week.

Two patients at Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam were recipients of heart and lungs which belonged to a stroke patient who died on Tuesday at the Prince of Wales Hospital. The stroke patient’s family donated her heart, lungs, liver and kidney, which were all deemed fit for donation.

However, a malignant mass that was 1.5cm in diameter was later discovered on the deceased’s kidneys by Prince of Wales Hospital doctors. The mass was later found to be cancer.

By the time the mass became known, the heart and lung transplants on the two patients at Queen Mary Hospital were already underway.

prince wales hospital
The blunder was announced by Prince of Wales Hospital on Thursday. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The incident was announced a day after the Hospital Authority reported that a tuberculosis patient had a quarter of his lung mistakenly removed after the Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital misdiagnosed him with lung cancer.

Prince of Wales Hospital said that it is rare for patients to develop cancer from a transplanted organ. It also said that the operations were performed after obtaining the consent of the patients, who understood the risks and the possibility of asymptomatic diseases.

Former chairman of The Hong Kong Society of Transplantation Dr. Chow Ka-fun told Sing Tao Daily that in theory, a 1.5cm mass should show up on an ultrasound, but it depends on the shape, size and location of the mass. He also said that the incident was very rare and may have been caused by inexperienced doctors or outdated ultrasound machines.

Queen Mary Hospital has explained follow-up plans to the families of the heart and lung transplant recipients.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.