Yu Yan before (left) and after the operation. Photo: Facebook, yuyanrecovery
Yu Yan before (left) and after the operation. Photo: Facebook, yuyanrecovery

A one-year-old girl has been in a coma in Queen Mary Hospital on Hong Kong Island for nearly a week after what her parents suspect was a medical blunder.

The girl, Yu Yan, underwent a liver operation last Friday at the hospital, which the doctor claimed was successful, according to a post on Facebook that her parents set up to tell the public about the incident.

The operation ended at 4:30pm, but Yu Yan was transferred to the general ward instead of the pediatric intensive-care unit as originally planned.

Around 7:12pm, a nurse gave Yu Yan a saline injection. The baby’s face turned dark red and her lips purple, but the nurses claimed this was a normal reaction.

Yu Yan lost consciousness after a while.

Meanwhile, machines monitoring the child’s pulse and blood pressure stopped showing readings. Suspecting a malfunction in the machines, the nurse replaced them twice, only to find that indeed the baby had no heartbeat.

The baby received emergency treatment, and her heart began beating again after six minutes.

By Tuesday, Yu Yan was able to cry and move her head and arms but still had not regained consciousness.

On Wednesday, she was still unconscious, though her fever had gone and hydrocephalus improved.

Praying at her bedside, Yu Yan’s parents quoted doctors as saying that if the girl did not regain consciousness in two weeks, she would fall into a vegetative state.

The girl’s father criticized the hospital for not transferring his daughter to the ICU after the operation, and the nurse for wrongly believing that the heart-monitoring machine had malfunctioned instead of checking the baby’s heartbeat manually, Oriental Daily reported.

He said his baby girl’s condition was the result of human error that could have been avoided.

Yu Yan was born on December 9, 2016. She was diagnosed with a bile-duct obstruction when she was two months old and underwent an operation called a Kasai procedure, Ming Pao Daily reported.

She appeared to be doing well during the following eight months but was admitted to Prince of Wales Hospital in October because of high bilirubin levels.

Since her condition did not improve after six weeks, she was transferred to Queen Mary Hospital for a liver transplant, and the doctor suggested a second Kasai procedure.

A spokesman for Queen Mary Hospital said it was communicating closely with the parents and had set up a cross-departmental group to investigate the case, Sing Tao Daily reported.

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