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January 14, 2011

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Buy a picture, and save girl's life

IN the pictures, she's a happy smiling baby. But behind the joyful images is a devastatingly sad story that has been tugging at the heartstrings of people throughout China.

A migrant couple is selling pictures of their one-year-old daughter on, China's largest online shopping website, to collect enough money to save her life.

Chen Keyi was found to have a serious case of thalassemia, an inherited blood disorder, last October during a routine checkup, and is receiving blood transfusions and other treatment every month. However, the therapy just slows down the deterioration and only a stem cell transplant can save her.

Thalassemia involves the defective production of hemoglobin, a molecule inside red blood cells that transports oxygen throughout the body.

The infant's mother, Long Li, 25, from Hunan Province, has a mild form of the disease and few symptoms. Doctors assured her that her baby was healthy while she was pregnant.

"It was such a big shock to me and my husband when we were told about our daughter's disease," said Long, who used up all her savings to treat her mother, who died of lung cancer in December, and to look after her father, who is rehabilitating after lung cancer surgery.

She and her husband, Chen Weihong, work at a plastics factory in Dongguan in Guangdong Province where they earn 4,000 yuan (US$605) a month, while their daughter's treatment costs at least 3,000 yuan a month.

"Doctors said the cost for a stem cell transplant is about 400,000 yuan, including the transplant and medication before and after, and it had better be done before the age of four or five," she said yesterday.

"Unable to shoulder the huge bill, we started to sell her lovely pictures online to collect money. We want to reach warm-hearted people who can help us make sure she survives. I can't stand the thought of losing her," she said.

There are a number of pictures of the girl at different ages. Happy and smiling in them all, they sell for 10 yuan each while a family picture taken on the infant's first birthday costs 500 yuan.

Long put details of her and her husband's identity cards, her daughter's birth certificate and her medical records online. She also published a certificate from her factory and a newspaper report to testify to the authenticity of her story.

"So far we have received 38,000 yuan in donations from my colleagues, employer and a social fund, while the online store on has collected about 20,000 yuan from hundreds of netizens, some of whom came to visit me and my daughter to confirm her disease and our situation," Long said.

She said she was very grateful to everyone who donated.

Xia Lin, an official at Shanghai Children's Medical Center, said: "Such a child can die before the age of 10 due to enlarged liver and spleen if not undergoing stem cell transplant. The transplant is the only solution for children with thalassemia."

The pictures and the story, in Chinese, can be seen at


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