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Thursday, September 1, 2016, 21:14

New joint replacement center cuts waiting times

By Willa Wu

HONG KONG - A new joint replacement center has opened to shorten the waiting time for patients by performing additional joint replacement surgeries, resident specialist of Queen Mary Hospital (QMH) Henry Fu Chun-him said on Wednesday.

The center, built in the Duchess of Kent Children's Hospital at Sandy Bay (DKCH) and officially opened to the public in July, aims to perform 260 additional joint replacement surgeries from July 2016 to March 2017. From March 2017 onwards, the center will attempt to conduct 350 additional surgeries every year.

Fu, from the Department of Orthopedics and Traumatology in QMH, said the city has witnessed an increase in service demand as the number of patients waiting for the joint replacement surgery rose from 7,065 in 2011 to 12,156 in 2015.

According to Fu, previously only two hospitals on Hong Kong Island – QMH and Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital – provide joint replacement surgery. Every year, 992 new patients are waiting for surgeries but only 619 surgeries could be done in the two hospitals, he said.

Fu also noted that the average waiting time for joint replacement surgery done on Hong Kong Island is around 4.3 years. With the new center operating the waiting time is expected to shorten to two years, with around 1,000 surgeries conducted.

Joint replacement surgery replaces diseased or damaged knee joints with artificial components. Fu said over 90 percent of the components stayed functional after being inserted for one year and over 80 percent were fine after being used for two years.

The center, Fu noted, is the first in the city that allows patients to walk on the same day the joint replacement surgeries are performed. He said allowing patients to walk on the same day will largely enhance their confidence, which is good for the following physiotherapy.

Speaking at the same event, Luk Che-chung, cluster chief executive of the Hong Kong West Cluster that oversees 13 hospitals and clinics, said the cluster will employ 100 nurses, pharmacists and other medical staff, as well as 100 supporting staff to ease the manpower shortage.

He also expressed his deep condolences to the late Ma Cheuk-long, who passed away on Tuesday night at QMH. Ma received a heart transplant in June after he was diagnosed with terminal heart failure. Luk said Ma had been in critical condition after the transplant and died of multiple organ failure.

Luk said he hoped Ma’s death would not influence society’s awareness of organ donation as Ma would have wished for the public’s continued for support for organ donation.

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