Do­na­tions give boy new lease of life

Public raises about 500,000 yuan ($73,787) to pay med­i­cal bills for an 11-year-old with leukemia

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By YANG JUN in Guiyang yangjun@chi­

Shi Luyao, an 11-year-old boy from the south­west­ern prov­ince of Guizhou, no longer needs to travel 800 kilo­me­ters by him­self to re­ceive leukemia treat­ment in a neigh­bor­ing prov­ince.

After his story was re­ported by me­dia re­cently, do­na­tions have flooded in to help him. A hospi­tal in Guizhou of­fered to treat him, and his med­i­cal bills can now be cov­ered by do­na­tions.

Born in a vil­lage that is only ac­ces­si­ble through moun­tain trails, Shi lived with his grand­par­ents after his mother aban­doned the poverty-stricken fam­ily when he was 2 years old.

Peng Jin, Shi’s fa­ther, took him to the eastern prov­ince of An­hui when he was in the third grade at el­e­men­tary school. Peng made a liv­ing work­ing in a tile fac­tory.

In 2013, Shi had what ap­peared to be a lin­ger­ing fever, which led Peng to take him to see doc­tors at Kun­ming Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal in Yun­nan prov­ince, a hospi­tal renowned for leukemia treat­ment.

Shi was di­ag­nosed with acute lym­phoblas­tic leukemia, a lethal blood dis­ease which is the most com­mon form of leukemia in chil­dren. Although doc­tors said he did not need a bone-mar­row trans­plant, which is a com­mon treat­ment for leukemia, Shi had to un­dergo chemo­ther­apy and bone-mar­row ex­am­i­na­tions to eval­u­ate the ef­fects of his treat­ment.

The treat­ment cre­ated a heavy fi­nan­cial bur­den on Peng, as Shi’s in­sur­ance did lit­tle in terms of cov­er­ing med­i­cal costs out­side of his home prov­ince.

But Peng re­fused to give in, telling his son: “Don’t give up. I’ll do ev­ery­thing I can to save you.” Peng bor­rowed 200,000 yuan ($30,000) and went back to An­hui to work to pay Shi’s med­i­cal bills.

With­out his fa­ther, Shi started trav­el­ing to Kun­ming with his grand­mother for treat­ment. But when his grand­mother be­gan vom­it­ing heav­ily from car­sick­ness on their trips, Shi de­cided to travel alone to re­ceive treat­ment.

To get from his home in Li­u­pan­shui city’s Bengjing vil­lage to the hospi­tal in Kun­ming, he had to take a bus to the train sta­tion in Li­u­pan­shui, where he boarded a train to Kun­ming, be­fore tak­ing an­other bus to the hospi­tal.

Pa­tients un­der­go­ing bone­mar­row punc­ture treat­ment are usu­ally re­quired to lie down and rest for six hours af­ter­ward, but Shi would leave straight away to catch the re­turn train.

To save money, he would spend the night at the Li­u­pan­shui train sta­tion un­til dawn, when he could catch a bus home.

Each trip would take at least two days, with Shi com­plet­ing a dozen such jour­neys in the past year.

“I can­not re­mem­ber how many times I’ve waited for sun­rise at the train sta­tion,” said Shi, be­fore burst­ing into tears.

Yet, de­spite hav­ing leukemia and need­ing to em­bark on long trips to re­ceive treat­ment, Shi con­tin­ued his ed­u­ca­tion at home and has man­aged to main­tain top grades, say­ing that he wants to keep read­ing and study­ing to achieve higher grades.

Ac­cord­ing to his teach­ers, Shi has scored top grades in math tests for the past year, and con­sis­tently scored above 90 in Chi­nese tests.

“He looked a bit pale and lonely be­fore, but his grades were sur­pris­ingly good,” said Peng Lu, Shi’s Chi­nese teacher.

To al­le­vi­ate him of lone­li­ness, teach­ers as­signed him a few study bud­dies.

“My class­mates like me, and we are happy to study to­gether,” Shi said.

With the help of lo­cal me­dia, thousands of peo­ple have learned of Shi’s story. Peo­ple from all over the coun­try are send­ing do­na­tions.

“We’ve re­ceived about 500,000 yuan in do­na­tions, and I’m speech­less,” Shi was quoted by China Youth Daily as say­ing. “I’ll get cured of the dis­ease and study hard.”

With the aid of the An­gel Mom Foun­da­tion, Shi will be trans­ferred to the Af­fil­i­ated Hospi­tal of Guizhou Med­i­cal Uni­ver­sity.

“He will save time on trav­el­ing, as well as ben­e­fit­ing fully from his in­sur­ance pol­icy now he is be­ing treated in his home prov­ince,” said a spokesman for the foun­da­tion.

His fa­ther said: “Luck­ily, we didn’t give up, and be­cause we didn’t give up, we have this help from the world. I could never have imag­ined that so many peo­ple would be will­ing to help us, it’s such a sur­prise.”

“If we re­ceive more do­na­tions after he is cured, I will give the money to oth­ers who are in need,” he said, adding that they had al­ready achieved their tar­get.

Luck­ily, we didn’t give up ... I could never have imag­ined that so many peo­ple would be will­ing to help us, it’s such a sur­prise.” Peng Jin, Shi Luyao’s fa­ther

Liang Shuang con­trib­uted to this story.

Shi Luyao

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