Past medical successes and future plans were highlighted at a gala dinner celebrating the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong Adventist Hospital Foundation, which offers philanthropic healthcare for financially disadvantaged patients across the Asia-Pacific region.
However, last October’s event – held at Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott Hotel – was also an opportunity to thank the numerous donors for their tremendous generosity over the years, which has made it possible to transform the lives of many people, including sick children and adults, and the elderly.
The foundation’s charity funds have provided surgery and post-operative care and other treatment for more than 10,000 patients from underprivileged backgrounds suffering from eye, hearing, heart, orthopaedic, cancer problems and also initiatives to promote healthy lifestyles.
Yet Philip Mok, chairman of the board of governors for the not-for-profit foundation, based at Hong Kong Adventist Hospital – Stubbs Road, Wan Chai – one of the city’s two private Hong Kong Adventist Hospitals – said in his speech at the gala dinner that there is always more to be done.
“We need to recognise that there are many in our society who are not as fortunate,” Mok said, noting that even though Hong Kong has an excellent public healthcare system, it has its limits and resources are often overstretched. “Our foundation exists to try and bridge the gap. For each patient’s life that we can help improve, the reward is immeasurable.”
For this to happen, much depends on the continuing financial support of donors, who understand and appreciate the value of good health and are blessed with the ability to receive quality care and attention, when something serious occurs or just as a precaution.
Since its inception in 1999, the foundation has raised nearly HK$154 million (US$20 million). Many of the top donors, including Hong Kong businessman Allan Zeman – who went straight to the gala dinner from the airport after a trip – were guests at the event. They not only heard about the foundation’s latest plans, but also enjoyed a number of highly entertaining performances.
Showing the way were the five members of Hong Kong’s girl group, XiX – winners of last year’s popular Stars Academy 2 reality television show on TVB – whose dynamic onstage energy created a real sense of celebration. That was matched by the enthusiasm of the event’s young volunteers, who took charge of fundraising raffle ticket sales on the night and achieved impressive results.
Their presence served as a timely reminder of the importance of the work done by the foundation’s Children’s Medical Fund and the vital role that philanthropy and a commitment to service still play in our community.
During the evening, guests also heard an inspiring medical success story about Lu Jinqing. At the age of one, she was diagnosed with severe sensorineural deafness. But thanks to a cochlear implantation she received as a beneficiary of the foundation’s Hearing Fund, she was able to grow up without being hampered by the disability.
Lu, now 24, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, works at an e-commerce photography company as an assistant to the general manager.
At the gala dinner, Lu took to the stage to give a moving vocal performance and warmly thanked Buddy Wong, the now retired doctor who was in charge of her case, and flew back to Hong Kong from the UK, for the event. Wong, a specialist in otorhinolaryngology – the study of diseases of the ear, nose, and throat – was formerly medical director of the foundation’s Hearing Fund.
Lu’s mother, Wu Xueling, also made a heartfelt speech in which she expressed how much Wong’s expertise and the support of the foundation had meant to her family. Wong also made a generous donation to the foundation.
The foundation’s Eye Fund was a key beneficiary of fundraising efforts at the gala dinner because this year it is launching a new charity programme to tackle the visual impairment known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), by providing timely and affordable treatment for eligible patients.
AMD is a degenerative eye disease that is now having a major impact in Hong Kong. It occurs when the macula, the small central portion of the retina, wears down and is a leading cause of severe, permanent vision loss in people aged over 60. The initial symptoms can include increased difficulty adapting to low light levels, trouble recognising faces and a well-defined blurry spot in the field of vision.
Early intervention is important, and the most effective treatment is an injection which can be quickly done in an eye clinic.
Since 2007, the Eye Fund has paid for more than 1,300 operations through its charity cataract programme. This work will continue alongside the new AMD initiative, while the foundation’s other funds will also press ahead with their work to promote positive change.
Mok said: “All the doctors involved base their practice on a fundamental human right, which is the right to health. Everyone deserves access to quality medical care, regardless of their socioeconomic status.”