Leo Cheng

Leo Cheng

LLM Legal Aspects of Medical Practice, 2007

Consultant oral, maxillofacial, head and neck surgeon Leo Cheng has spent several years as a regular volunteer on board the Mercy Ships in West Africa. He works in St Bartholomew's, the Royal London and the Homerton University Hospitals in London as a specialist in cancer and reconstructive surgery.

"I have been serving on the Mercy Ships as a regular volunteer consultant maxillofacial and reconstructive surgeon for the last 10 years and I have just come back from my 11th trip to West Africa," says Leo. "In my last outreach, my family and I served together on the Africa Mercy, the largest non-governmental hospital ship in the world.  This 16,500 tonne ship is not just a hospital ship but a village with 450 volunteer crew members bringing hope and healing to the forgotten poor in West Africa.  

"West Africa has some of the poorest countries and many people continue to live in poverty earning less than $1-2 per day.  My wife, Hilary, served as a ward chaplain; my elder daughter, Kat, served as a health care assistant; and my younger daughter who was only 19 years old at the time served as a chef cooking for up to 800 people every day.  She served for more than two months on the ship during her gap year.

"All volunteers on board the Mercy Ships receive no financial compensation. I realise that by giving, I receive even more when I am serving on the Mercy Ships.  It is in the process of giving that I receive life in all its fullness.

Speaking about his time at Cardiff University, Leo says, "I used to visit Cardiff when I worked as a junior doctor at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend in 1987 and I dreamt of studying at Cardiff University.  Many years later when I became a Consultant Surgeon, I discovered that there was a Masters in Law degree in Medical Practice which suited my continuous curiosities in medical law and ethics.

"The course was stimulating and each time I would look forward to attending lessons especially when I was preparing my thesis.  I was encouraged and advised by Professor Viv Harper to write my thesis on suspension of the NHS and it was then published as an article.  I graduated in 2007 and I still remember on the first introductory day of the LLM course, I was so surprised to see Tony Hockley who was one of my trainers and consultant paediatric neurosurgeon in Birmingham some 20 years ago!" 

Coming to the end of this interview, we asked Leo for any closing comments to the Cardiff alumni community. "We are so very privileged in this country to receive high quality education and world-class professional training," he said. "One way to share our gifts is to benefit not just the people in this country but also our fellow international citizens in less fortunate parts of the world.

"I would like to share this quote from Edward Hale: "I am only one, but still I am one.  I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do."