Tue, May 20, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Runaway patient returns to hospital for TB treatment

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

The Department of Health (DOH) said yesterday that it would arrange for a runaway patient infected with a virulent form of tuberculosis to obtain treatment.

Chou Jih-haw (周志浩), deputy director-general of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), made the remarks after Lee Chen-chu (李真主), via a lawmaker, expressed a desire to return to hospital to resume treatment.

Taichung Hospital confirmed yesterday that Lee had returned to the hospital, but said that “out of respect for his wishes, it would arrange for him to be transferred to the hospital of his choice.”

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chang Chia-chun (張嘉郡) said yesterday that she had contacted Lee through a friend of his. Lee promised to resume treatment, asking for an early transfer to another hospital for surgery to remove lesions on his lungs, she said.

The CDC will arrange for Lee, who had previously refused to have the lesions removed, to get proper treatment, Chou said.

“The time and place, however, will not be disclosed,” he said, adding that the CDC will begin an investigation to locate individuals who may have had contact with Lee and arrange for them to have medical examinations if necessary.

Lee, diagnosed with multiple drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), left Taichung Hospital through a fire door on Wednesday night. He had been receiving treatment at the hospital since July.

The DOH was forced to make his identity public since he could become infectious once his treatment had been discontinued.

Lee first made the headlines when he and his wife, who was also suffering from TB at the time, traveled to China via Hong Kong last year in defiance of a travel ban.

The couple was tracked down to a hotel in the northern part of Jiangsu Province and were then escorted back to Taiwan by ship.

They were sent to Taichung Hospital for compulsory treatment in late July.

Since then Lee’s wife has recovered and been discharged from the hospital.

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