Xinhua News, Lanzhou, March 26 (Reporters: Wenjing Zhang, Gang Guo) In a ward in Lanzhou University First Hospital Cardiac Surgery Department, 8-year-old girl He Hongyan sits on her hospital bed, with a ruddy complexion, admiring the photo taken of her by America’s Little Red Scarf employees. Only a few days ago, her face tinted purple and she could barely move.
He Hongyan is from a rural area near Weiyuan County, Dingxi City in Gansu Province. The day after she was born, she was diagnosed with the worst type of congenital heart disease. He Hongyan’s mother tells us, “Ever since she was little, she severely lacked oxygen, her whole body tinted purple, her fingers were bent, and she could not walk; she could only squat or curl into a ball.”
He Hongyan’s cousin Ma Yanxia says, “The family does not have any money to pay for the surgery, so we could only keep her alive with medication. Her condition worsened during the past few years.” Hongyan’s father died of an illness last year and her 80-year-old grandmother lies in bed, paralyzed, taken care of by Hongyan’s mother, who relies on her 25 Yuan salary from working in the vegetable sheds to keep the entire family afloat.
Over the past few years, the Chinese government has introduced many support policies aimed to help the Chinese people get better medical care. One example is the policy to develop coordinated health care in the countryside. In 2012, Gansu Province Civil Affairs Office also put into effect a severe illness succor project, with congenital heart disease being one of the targeted illnesses. The support patients receive average around 20 thousand Yuan.
Little Red Scarf’s Lanzhou office leader Yuan Yujie says, “The policies are great. We can reimburse some medical costs, although we must first pay 10 thousand Yuan when patients first move in to the hospital. Surgery for congenital heart disease costs around 30 thousand Yuan, with more complicated surgeries costing around 60 to 80 thousand Yuan.”
Yuan Yujie explains that to pay 10 to 20 thousand Yuan right off for surgery costs is near impossible for poor families like He Hongyan’s. Little Red Scarf attempts to help the hearts of these children on top of what the government has done.
In 2008, Mr. and Mrs. Ping Chao collaborated with CCHC Loving Point (I’m not sure the correct name) and Angel Heart Foundation (not sure either) to set up Little Red Scarf, with a goal of helping to support surgeries for children with congenital heart disease living in rural Gansu and to find the best doctors and medical care for these children. Up to this point, LRS has helped 1,000 children undergo surgery.
Yuan Yujie adds, “After hearing of Hongyan’s condition, Little Red Scarf decided to pay the full cost of her surgery.”
Late March this year, with the help of Little Red Scarf and their partner Lanzhou University First Hospital, Hongyan underwent a successful surgery. Lanzhou University First Hospital’s Cardiac Surgery Department Director Song Bing tells us, “The surgery was very successful and post-surgery recovery also went very well. The child can now walk on her own.”
According to statistics, 3% of infants in Gansu Province are born with congenital heart disease. Currently, there are still thousands of children living with the disease who are also in poverty, waiting for help.
Song Bing explains that 90% of the diseased children they take in are from impoverished families, especially from rural families who have no reliable source of income.
Song Bing continues to say that in recent years, other charities such as the Ai You Foundation joined in to help children with congenital heart disease. The scope of their support is also widening to include children with cleft lips or leukemia.
Yuan Yujie says, “We will also monitor these family over the long-run. The Foundation will set up a specific fund to help them develop fish and livestock breeding, farming, and other projects that will relieve them of poverty and help them start new lives.”
Xinhua News, Reporters: Wenjing Zhang, Gang Guo, Translated by EV Intern, Allison Zhang
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