Macau | Gov't services have closely monitored the health condition of a domestic violence victim left with serious burn injuries

Local health authorities and social services have stated they have maintained financial, medical and psychological support to a woman left with serious face and eye burn injuries after her husband attacked her with boiling oil and liquid cleanser

Macau (MNA) – The Macau Health Bureau and the Social Affairs Bureau (IAS) indicated that they have closely followed and supported the health and psychological condition of a local woman victim of domestic violence.

The case took place in July, 2018 when the victim’s husband threw boiling oil and liquid cleanser to the 31-years-old woman, causing her severe burns injuries in one third of her body, including eyes and face.

The man was then arrested and charged with a serious physical offense, with the SS having now indicated that medical expenses for the several treatments and surgeries the woman had to go through exceeded MOP1.8 million (US$222,652).

The response by authorities came after legislator Agnes Lam posted a request on her Facebook page for donations to be made to a fundraiser organised by the Good Shepherd Centre to raise money to assist with the woman’s medical expenses.

According to Ms. Lam, despite half a year of treatment the young woman, said to have suffered burns to one third of her body, was currently blind from both eyes, crippled from her right arm, and had lost work and operational abilities having to undergo painful skin tissue recovery.

Local health authorities stated that the patient’s skin burns were said to have been treated but with the woman having to undergo several surgeries in Hong Kong due to injuries to her eyes, including allogeneic binocular amniotic membrane transplantation, bilateral orbital mucosal transplant suture and bilateral orbital conjunctival reconstruction.

‘The patient is currently being followed up at the outpatient clinic of the Office of Ophthalmology and Burns at Prince Wales Hospital in Hong Kong, and the situation is closely monitored by ophthalmologists,’ the SS stated.

After the surgery in Hong Kong, the patient was integrated into the Conde S. Januario General Hospital (CHCSJ) ophthalmology ward to receive medical treatment and the SS have been monitoring her health status

However, the patient and her family members were said to have not considered the conditions for rehabilitation to be good and requested her to be discharged from hospital.

After the CHCSJ organized a patient evaluation and after a consultation with its plastic surgery, ophthalmology and psychiatric services, and holding a meeting with the family of the victim, she was allowed to leave the hospital.

The patient also requested for a medical procedure to restore vision in the most severe cases of corneal and ocular surface known as Osteo-odonto-keratoprosthesis (OOKP) in the United Kingdom.

However the SS considered after discussions with the Board for Overseas Medical Services that this type of surgery was not considered a common treatment for similar cases.

The reason for this was said to be that the treatment effect is not satisfactory and may cause complications, such as refractory glaucoma, severe bacterial infection or need to remove the eyeball and even blindness, with the treatment possibly also causing extreme pain to the patient.

Therefore she was advised by the SS to not undergo this kind of surgery stating that ‘even with the success of the surgery, the patient will not return to normal life’.

‘After surgery, the recovery period is long and of high risk. The possible mental trauma caused by failure of surgery also requires careful evaluation,’ the SS stated.

The IAS has also indicated that followed-up on the case, combining efforts with the relevant public services and private institutions to provide the affected family with economic support, namely a MOP8,100 regular allowance and MOP5,230 in monthly support for specific medical care.

This department has also maintained currently in regular contact with the school and family members of the woman’s child, with a proposal is made for counseling and therapy that is most conducive to the growth of that child, in the hope that the mother and the child come into contact between them as soon as possible.

‘In addition, efforts have been made to organize the stay of the victim’s parents while in Macau and provide them with the social resources they lack. Considering also the difficulties that the family may encounter in the short term in terms of housing, an organization of temporary accommodation was already provided,’ the IAS added.

Emotional support and counseling were provided to the members of the respective family and, through contact with Caritas, accommodation for victim’s parents was arranged in Hong Kong while the victim was there for treatment.

‘Since the parents are already a certain age and are not residents of Macau, the IAS will continue to closely monitor the situation of the said family, providing adequate and necessary support, so that this family can pass the difficult period and build a new life,’ the department added.

The IAS also appealed residents to when suspecting or experiencing domestic violence, immediately seek professional support by calling the IAS 24-hour hotline for domestic violence cases, 28233030.

After a new domestic violence law was enforced in 2016 nine cases were recorded by authorities that year under the new legislation, followed by seven in 2017 and two in 2018.