From Benificiary to Contributor – Journey of a KC Patient in China

by Jonathan Cheung
Summer 2011

In 1997, when Hong Kong was handed over to China, I declared my nationality as “Chinese” and I was the recipient of a corneal transplant with the first locally supplied cornea. As a beneficiary of this transplantation, I would like to share my story with all KC patients in the world, how we could serve and help altruistically and not give up.

NKCF-SUMMER-NL2011I was diagnosed with keratoconus during an eye exam when I was 25 but the doctors could not fully explain what KC was. Was it genetic? Would I require a transplant? I had so many questions and searched for information. I found the NKCF website and have been an NKCF member residing in Hong Kong for many years.

I was diagnosed with keratoconus during an eye exam when I was 25 but the doctors could not fully explain what KC was. Was it genetic? Would I require a transplant? I had so many questions and searched for information. I found the NKCF website and have been an NKCF member residing in Hong Kong for many years.

Contact lenses corrected my vision from age 27 to 37. During this time I completed my MBA and traveled to many different places of the world, and got married. On my wedding day, I was worried about how could I stand wearing contact lenses all day! I managed to overcome this with the great encouragement and support from my wife, Katherine, and most importantly, my faith.

I became involved with Outward Bound in Hong Kong, an outdoor leadership program. Their motto is: To Serve, To Strive and Not to Yield. I managed to finish a demanding 18-day sea course all the while wearing goggles to prevent my contact lens from popping out! Every morning I jumped from the rim of the “Chi-fung” yacht and swam around it.

During these years I experienced lenses popping out at inopportune times such as waiting at a metro platform! I eventually developed corneal scarring and required a transplant. I received the first locally supplied cornea in Hong Kong.

After my transplant, wanting to help others in need of corneal surgery, I became involved with the Hong Kong Cornea Concern Association (HKCCA), www.cornea.org.hk, a Patient Self-Help Organization, and from 2002 to 2005 I served as the Chairman. With grants from the Social Welfare Department we were able to employ the first part-time staff and published the first “Cornea Concern” booklet for distribution to KC patients at public hospitals and private clinics. We now have full-time staff employed and in the past several years have had a significant increase in membership.

Currently, I am helping write the NewSelector, a regular newsletter of the HKCCA. I translate some of the encouraging articles from patients appearing in the NKCF Newsletter to share with the NewSelector readers.

I’ve gone through many ups and downs during my journey as a KC patient but I have managed to read thousands of journal articles and use the computer regularly. I am now serving in an US-based Christian University with a branch in Hong Kong and I am in the final stage of completing my PhD study, writing my thesis on “Altruistic-oriented” charitable giving.