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A Social Worker’s Life-and-Death Struggle

~ Sharing of Christine Kwok, Supervisor of HKSKHKowloonCity Children and Youth Integrated Service Centre
By Amy Fung
        Social worker is the helping professional, and they have the mission of assisting people in need with their passion and knowledge. Nevertheless, social workers are also humans having their blind side. The experienced social worker Christine Kwok (right on the above photo) kindly shared with us that when the helpee was a former team-mate and was dying due to serious illness, she could ignore all the code and guidelines in order to help him pull through.
        Christine is the Supervisor of the HKSKH Kowloon City Children and Youth Integrated Service Centre. Under her supervision, Wong Lau-ho (Ah Ho, below photo) had once worked as programme officer at the centre. In August 2008, Christine heard that Ah Ho, who had resigned to further his studies earlier that year, was admitted to hospital with acute liver failure. His bilirubin level was found nearly 30 times the normal level, and his liver function was so badly deteriorated that he was at the top of the liver transplant list. “The first time we visited him was on September 25. The doctor told us that Ah Ho’s liver function would sustain his life for only two weeks. We had no idea what we could do for him,” she sadly said.
Call for support to overcome the challenge
        Soon after the visit, Christine spread his news through the SKH Welfare Council to call for help, and the response was encouraging. Whether experienced or new, ranked high or low, lots of colleagues had a wish to show their support by visiting Ah Ho and his family in the hospital. Christine thus suggested making a visitor timetable to avoid disturbing the patient. “In fact, I was once struggling if I should spread the news within the Council as he was no longer working with us. But everything went fine and smooth after our report to the supervisor,” she said.
        The team also helped Ah Ho’s mother contact the media to cover the case so as to recruit more supporters of liver donation. The Department of Heath even invited Ah Ho to share his story in an organ donation promotion video to appeal public support.
        On 9 October, Saturday, Christine received Ah Ho’s call in the office. He said the hospital had received a liver from a deceased donor, and was arranging the transplant operation for him. Ah Ho had to reply whether he would accept the donation; if not, the opportunity would be offered to another patient. Yet, Ah Ho’s mother, who would rather donate her liver to her dear son, was hesitant about the deceased liver transplantation. Already exhausted herself in looking after her son day and night, she had become physically very weak, and the doctor was unwilling to put her life at risk for the living donor transplantation. “Ah Ho told me that if he gave up the offer, it would be given to the other. And we all know that the chance is slim to wait for another suitable liver.” Without a second thought of informing her supervisor, Christine rushed to the hospital right away. “At that time, the respect of service users’ right to self-determination in the social worker’s code of practice was totally out of my mind. I just want to persuade Ah Ho and his mother to accept the offer,” she said.
Care for each other like family
        At the last moment, Ah Ho’s mother agreed to let her son undergo the transplant operation. “That night, at around 3 am, I suddenly woke up, and felt very much scared. I was afraid how I could face his mother if Ah Ho would have any problem in the transplantation,” Christine said. “Luckily, he is now recovering gradually though there is a long way to go. For example, he has to be more careful about his diet and……” With her tender loving care, she sounded as if she were his family member. She hoped that Ah Ho’s story can inspire us to be more considerate of the people around, making the world a better place for everyone. 

2011-04-09   更新
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