No­bel lau­re­ate’s health de­clines

Fam­ily mem­bers called in to be with po­lit­i­cal prisoner in China

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL - DIDI TANG

BEI­JING — Chi­nese No­bel Peace Prize lau­re­ate Liu Xiaobo’s health is fur­ther de­te­ri­o­rat­ing as his liver func­tion wors­ens and ab­dom­i­nal fluid ac­cu­mu­lates, a friend and the hos­pi­tal that is treat­ing him said, adding to con­cerns about the long-term prog­no­sis for the coun­try’s best­known po­lit­i­cal prisoner.

The doc­tor lead­ing a med­i­cal team in charge of Liu’s treat­ment for late-stage liver can­cer in­formed his fam­ily of the de­vel­op­ment, First Hos­pi­tal of China Med­i­cal Univer­sity said in a state­ment that ap­peared on its web­site Thurs­day.

A fam­ily friend con­firmed Thurs­day that Liu’s fam­ily had been asked to be on standby in the hos­pi­tal in the north­east­ern city of Shenyang over the next 24 hours — which they took as a sign that Liu is crit­i­cally ill.

“We are wor­ried about whether we should start plan­ning for what to do after he leaves,” said fam­ily friend Wu Yang­wei, bet­ter known by his pen name Ye Du.

Wu on Thurs­day shared on so­cial me­dia an un­dated photo of an ema­ci­ated Liu, in blue-and-white-striped hos­pi­tal pa­ja­mas, em­brac­ing his wife Liu Xia, who gazed up at his ex­pres­sion­less face. The photo ap­peared to have been taken at the hos­pi­tal, though its back­ground seemed to have been dig­i­tally blurred.

Liu’s liver func­tion is de­te­ri­o­rat­ing, the hos­pi­tal said in a separate state­ment later Thurs­day. The hos­pi­tal said doc­tors de­tected in­creas­ing lev­els of a nat­u­ral waste prod­uct called biliru­bin in Liu’s body — a sign that his liver is not ef­fec­tively fil­ter­ing the byprod­uct from his blood. El­e­vated biliru­bin lev­els are linked to jaun­dice.

The hos­pi­tal also said there were signs that Liu might have blood clots in his lower left leg. Clots are most dan­ger­ous when they travel to the lungs, a po­ten­tially life-threat­en­ing sit­u­a­tion, or to the brain, where they can cause a stroke.

Liu was di­ag­nosed in May while serv­ing a 11-year sen­tence for in­cit­ing sub­ver­sion by ad­vo­cat­ing sweep­ing po­lit­i­cal over­hauls that would end China’s one-party rule. He was awarded the No­bel Peace Prize in 2010, a year after his con­vic­tion.

Since the di­ag­no­sis was made pub­lic in late June, his sup­port­ers, West­ern gov­ern­ments and hu­man-rights groups have been urg­ing Bei­jing to re­lease Liu and give him the free­dom to choose where he wants to be treated. Bei­jing has main­tained that this is an in­ter­nal af­fair other coun­tries should stay out of and that Liu is un­der the care of ex­perts in the Chi­nese med­i­cal cen­ter.

Guo Yuhua, a pro­fes­sor of so­ci­ol­ogy in Bei­jing, said the govern­ment has failed to give Liu what he most needs.

“Lib­erty, fam­ily and friend­ship are the best medicine, yet Bei­jing would never of­fer them to him,” she said.

Maya Wang, a re­searcher for Hu­man Rights Watch, called Liu’s treat­ment “shame­ful.”

“The Chi­nese govern­ment’s treat­ment of Liu Xiaobo, which in­cludes hold­ing him and his fam­ily even in his dy­ing days, re­veals the cru­elty and ruth­less­ness of the Chi­nese govern­ment,” Wang said. “How can such a govern­ment be con­sid­ered as a re­li­able and re­spon­si­ble part­ner for global lead­er­ship?”

The hos­pi­tal state­ment also in­cluded the names of some of the ex­perts, in­clud­ing Dr. Mao Yilei, a re­puted ex­pert on liver can­cer at Pek­ing Union Med­i­cal Col­lege Hos­pi­tal, who con­ducted an­other round of group con­sul­ta­tions on the day when the state­ment was re­leased, which was most likely Thurs­day.

The state­ment, be­lieved to be re­spond­ing to crit­i­cism that China might have failed to ad­e­quately care for Liu, said the ex­perts were ap­prov­ing of pre­vi­ous treat­ments of Liu. They also ad­justed the treat­ment as Liu’s ill­ness de­vel­oped, the hos­pi­tal said.

On be­half of the med­i­cal team, Mao in­formed Liu’s fam­ily of his most re­cent con­di­tion, and Liu’s fam­ily said they un­der­stood, the state­ment said. The state­ment was im­pos­si­ble to ver­ify with Liu’s wife or other fam­ily mem­bers, who have not been con­tactable and are said to face re­stric­tions on their move­ments and com­mu­ni­ca­tions with the out­side world. Calls to the hos­pi­tal were unan­swered Thurs­day.

AP photo

In this im­age taken from video, Liu Xiaobo speaks June 3, 2008, dur­ing an in­ter­view be­fore his de­ten­tion in Bei­jing.

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