Press Releases

RMB 70 million donation to International Eye Center

28 June 2002


First Retinal Vein Catheterization Operation Performed in China

China’s first retinal vein catheterization operation has been successfully performed at the STU/CUHK Joint Shantou International Eye Center (JSIEC). The Eye Center, opened today, is a specialist eye hospital that integrates teaching and research and was built through a generous donation of RMB 70 million from Mr Li Ka-shing. Adjacent to the Second Affiliated Hospital of Shantou University, it has a total area of 9,500 sq m. The Center has 100 beds and is equipped with state-of-the-art medical facilities, providing comprehensive treatment for patients with various eye diseases and visual impairment.

The retinal vein catheterization operation, performed for the first time in Mainland China, adopts the concept of cardiac catheterization. By inserting a very fine catheter into the central vein of the retina, and administering tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) to revive the blood flow, the operation helps the patient to regain his normal eyesight. Similar operations will be the key services developed by the Eye Center. Other tasks of the Center include the prevention and treatment of various eye diseases, training of medical students and eye specialists, conducting ophthalmology research, and the establishment of an “eye bank” to promote corneal donations and transplants.

There are at present about 4 million cataract patients in China, with a total of more than 9 million cases of visual impairment. The Eye Center can provide a model for the treatment and care of eye diseases in South China. Mr Li Ka-shing has always ardently supported the treatment and rehabilitation of disabled people. He first proposed the idea in 1998 of building a well-equipped eye specialist centre in the Chaozhou-Shantou areas.

At the Eye Center’s opening ceremony, Mr Li encouraged people in the area to donate their corneas. He said, “It is said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. I think blindness is a most horrible disability. Giving blind people the ability to see again and the opportunity to lead a new life is a deeply rewarding undertaking. One of the most important objectives of the JSIEC is the promotion of corneal donations. We Teochews have always been very helpful to one another. I hope that we can cast off any conservative or backward notions about corneal donations. We guarantee that the corneas will be put to good use. We also hope that Shantou Government officials will support this initiative wholeheartedly. With all the distinguished guests from home and abroad attending the opening of the JSIEC, we can all cooperate in changing the traditional thinking about corneal donations.”

Mr Li Ka-shing officiated at the opening ceremony of the Eye Center. Other officiating guests included Mr Huang Jiefu, China’s Vice Minister of Health; and Prof Arthur Li, Vice-Chancellor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). The specialist hospital, named the Joint Shantou International Eye Center, was jointly established by Shantou University and CUHK.

The donations from the Li Ka-shing Foundation have provided funds for the construction of the building and related infrastructure, purchase of medical equipment and the training of researchers and specialists.

Mr Li started making donations in 1991 for the benefit of people suffering from eye diseases. These included a donation of RMB 100 million to the China Disabled Persons’ Federation, which has helped more than a million cataract patients in Mainland China to restore their eyesight.

The Fourth International Symposium of Ophthalmology, organized by the Eye Center, was held in Shantou at the same time. Participating at the Symposium were prominent eye doctors and specialists from China and overseas. They were taking the opportunity to exchange their expertise and experiences. The highlight of the Symposium was a live demonstration of eye surgery performed at the newly opened Eye Center. Via live video transmission, participants were able to watch and discuss at the Symposium venue the latest techniques in eye surgery demonstrated by prominent eye specialists.

The Joint Shantou International Eye Center is the fifth affiliated hospital under the Shantou University Medical College – after the First and Second Affiliated Hospitals, the Affiliated Tumor Hospital and the Mental Health Center. For many years Mr Li Ka-shing has actively supported the development of Shantou University, and he has donated a total of HK$2 billion for its development.

28 Jun 2002