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February 18, 2013

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Blind woman first allowed to keep dog in city hospital

A 57-YEAR-OLD woman is the first patient in the city to be allowed to keep her guide dog with her during her entire hospital stay.

Huang Ming, who is blind, was admitted at Shanghai Shibei Hospital on February 6 due to serious coughing and short of breath caused by a respiratory infection.

Huang, blind for seven years as a result of illness, said her life was changed after she received Jiang Quan, a black male Labrador from the United Kingdom. The dog is one of 18 licensed guide dogs distributed to blind people by the Shanghai Disabled People's Federation.

"Since the dog entered my life in 2011, he has given me a sense of safety, reliability," Huang said. "I am a normal person when I'm with the dog, who also escorts me to the doctor."

The hospital provided a ward for Huang and her dog, but charged her only the cost of a single bed in a 4-patient ward due to her financial difficulties.

"I am grateful to the hospital and all medical staff, who are so supportive and kind to me and my guide dog," Huang said.

Huang said some patients and their families had been unhappy about the dog, worried that it would disturb other patients.

"After seeing Jiang Quan, they were all convinced and loved my dog so much," she said. "This may be effective way for society to become more tolerant of disabled people and guide dogs."

Huang is recovering quickly and will be discharged this week, doctors said.


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