Doctor jailed for six years over liposuction death

The High Court on Monday sentenced a doctor to six years in prison for manslaughter over a botched liposuction procedure, with the judge expressing shock over the defendant’s failure to provide due care to her patient.

The jury in the case had unanimously found Vanessa Kwan, 38, guilty of killing dance instructor Josephine Lee due to gross negligence.

Lee, 32, fell into a coma while undergoing liposuction performed by Kwan in the Tsim Sha Tsui beauty parlour, Regrowth Hair Transplant Centre, and died on June 26, 2014.

In sentencing, justice Susana D’Almada Remedios noted that the defendant and the victim were friends.

The judge said Lee had trusted Kwan and had put her life in her hands, but Kwan had turned a blind eye to her friend’s condition, leaving her with untrained assistants while she was in a coma.

The judge said when a monitoring machine showed that Lee’s vital signs were worsening during the operation, Kwan only switched off the alarm without examining her patient’s condition further.

D’Almada Remedios said she was shocked to learn that Kwan had not made sure that Lee had enough oxygen before leaving the operation room.

No one would expect a doctor to leave a patient alone while she was in a coma, the judge said.

D’Almada Remedios also noted that the defendant was the only one in the room who had received professional medical training, adding that the four other members of staff present did not have medical qualifications.

She said even though Kwan had successfully performed a couple of liposuction procedures in the past, it was only down to luck that nothing serious had gone wrong until this incident.

The judge described the case as a tragedy, saying the court’s verdict would not be able to compensate for the harm and loss inflicted on Lee’s family.