More than 20 new mothers rushed to a hospital to help breastfeed a stranger's baby whose mother is recovering from injuries caused by the magnitude-7 earthquake on April 20 in Sichuan province.
A volunteer takes care of 4-month-old Tang Xinyun at a hospital in Chengdu, Sichuan province. Tang's mother, Liu Chunyan, was injured in the April 20 earthquake. LI XIANGYUN / FOR CHINA DAILY
Tang Hongjun, the baby's father, was worried after his wife Liu Chunyan was sent to a hospital.
"I had only 10 yuan ($1.60) in my pocket," said the 26-year-old farmer from Yuechi county in Sichuan.
He didn't have enough money to buy baby formula for the couple's 4-month-old daughter and was worried that the hospital wouldn't treat his wife.
"To my surprise, Huaxi Hospital offers free treatment and free meals, and kind-hearted people breastfed my daughter," he said.
Liu, 27, was injured when a wall inside the two-story building where the family live in Tianquan county collapsed and fell on her. She had gone back inside after the earthquake to rescue her youngest daughter, Tang Xinyun.
Her husband had already left the building with the couple's two other daughters, aged 3 and 5.
Her spleen and pancreas were damaged. Liu underwent surgery to remove them at Huaxi Hospital in Chengdu on April 21.
Xiao Fengming, a head nurse in charge of the liver and vascular surgery ward, said Liu couldn't breastfeed her daughter because the medicine she is taking might have a negative impact on the baby through her milk.
Xiao and her colleagues bought milk formula, milk bottles, towels and napkins for the baby.
"My daughter was so hungry that she drank 60 milliliters of milk formula in one sitting," Liu said. "Medics are so kind, and I feel like a VIP. Cheng Liu, a young nurse, washes my face, combs my hair and helps me squeeze milk every day to ensure I will have milk to breastfeed my daughter after I am discharged from the hospital."
Soon after she arrived at Huaxi Hospital, two new mothers donated their milk for her daughter and left without giving their names.
As her story spread, 29 new mothers in Chengdu also volunteered to breastfeed her daughter.
"Two mothers came in the morning and the other pair in the evening to breastfeed my daughter," Liu said.
Zhang Xue, one of the new mothers helping Liu, said, "As a mother, I can understand the misfortune of Liu Chunyan and just want to help."
According to Xiao, Liu is now able to walk and her condition is stable.
Tang said: "Our family of five will return to my wife's home village of Mushan in Dongkou county in Hunan province where she can be better taken care of by her parents."