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July 9, 2014

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Publicity-shy benefactor helps sick baby

A SHANGHAI benefactor has donated 100,000 yuan (US$16,129) so that a baby from a poor family in Gansu Province can receive treatment for spina bifida at a local hospital.

Yet the woman, identified only by her surname Zhou, has never met the family of the 2-month-old baby boy called Xi Xiazhou.

She is said to be aggrieved that the child’s farmer father abandoned his son in a hole by a desert highway, though the family were later reunited.

Instead, lawyers and her driver conduct dealings with the family and her donations are paid directly into an account she set up at the hospital.

Speaking to Shanghai Daily at the Shanghai Blue Cross Brain Hospital, where Xi Xiazhou is being treated, his mother Wu Chunyan was almost in tears as she expressed her gratitude.

“She sends her driver to visit us regularly but I’ve never seen her. If I see her, I want to say thank you. We want to repay her for her generosity,” she said.

Late last month, the baby underwent surgery at the Shanghai Blue Cross Brain Hospital to treat swelling on his brain caused by the spinal condition.

He is now in stable condition and will receive another three or four risky surgeries, doctors said yesterday.

“We are organizing a group diagnosis with spine specialists from leading hospitals including the Shanghai Changzheng Hospital and the Shanghai No.1 People’s Hospital to discuss the surgery plan,” said Dr Hou Zengxin from the department of neurosurgery.

The boy was born on April 29 in Dunhuang City in Gansu and was found to have spina bifida, a birth defect that can lead to severe physical disabilities.

Abandon son

His father, surnamed Xi, took him to a large hospital in provincial capital Lanzhou, but doctors told him that the child’s case was severe and there was little chance that a poor farmer could afford treatment.

When Xi broke the news to his wife back in Dunhuang, she was very upset and in despair Xi decided to abandon their son.

Telling the wife he was taking the boy to hospital, on May 9 Xi borrowed a car and drove for over an hour at night on a desert highway. It was cold and raining, and not wanting to leave the child by the roadside, Xi placed him in a hole.

However, the child was discovered by a passer-by, and taken by police to the hospital where he was born. Staff recognized the child and police went to the home.

Hearing the family’s story and seeing their situation, officers decided to give Xi another chance after he promised to take good care of his child.

In China, parents who abandon their children can face punishment only if the child dies or suffers serious injury.

But the baby’s plight aroused great attention in the hospital, and staff donated money.

By chance, Zhou was on a business trip to Dunhuang and heard the child’s story when she called at the hospital to obtain medication for herself.

She asked to see the child and then decided to cover all his medical expenses.

As the boy’s spinal deformity was worsening, Zhou paid the family to take him to Beijing, then to the Shanghai Blue Cross Brain Hospital.

Xi Xiazhou faces many trials ahead, but his name features a tribute to his benefactor. As he had not been named by his parents, the Dunhuang hospital named him Xiazhou.

The character “xia” is a tribute to one of the doctors who delivered him in Dunhuang, while “zhou” commemorates his Shanghai patron.


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