A group of poor parents whose children have leukaemia yesterday wept with joy as they received donations for treatment from the Chinese Red Cross Foundation (CRCF) at a hospital in Beijing.
The foundation, which set up a special fund Angel Fund for child leukaemia victims last June, allocated 600,000 yuan (US$75,000) to 16 youngsters at Beijing Dongsi Hospital.
The hospital works with CRCF in the treatment of impoverished people.
While the children come from remote villages from across China, their families all have two things in common little money and expensive medical bills.
"I had no way out," said Xu Minghua, 36, who dropped his son at the gate of CRCF last Wednesday and left, hoping that the foundation could save his seriously ill son.
The father comes from a small village in east China's Anhui Province. Holding 5,000 yuan (US$625) in hands, his family's entire savings, Xu and his wife took their 10-year-old son to Beijing to see a doctor early this year. The money was soon used up at a military hospital, forcing them to finish the treatment and leave.
"Without money, we could do nothing but wait for him to die," said Xu. "I heard CRCF has a fund to help children with leukaemia, so I decided to try."
After finding the boy abandoned and learning of his disease, CRCF staff immediately sent little Xu Yahui to Dongsi Hospital.
Five days later, his parents came to the hospital for an emotional reunion.
"We all felt numb at seeing each other again. No one spoke and no one cried," the father recalled. "Then we all hugged and cried."
"It was my idea (to go to CRCF and for my parents to go away)," said the boy in a weak voice. "I did not resent my parents at all. I want to live. I have no other choices."
"I can understand the family," said Zhang Haihe, another poor father named. "But I would never abandon my daughter in any circumstances."
His 9-year-old daughter Zhang Li was diagnosed with leukaemia four years ago.
His wife left him in 2004 because she could no longer bear the hard life and heavy debts.
"As long as I have breath in my body, I can work and earn money for my daughter," said the thin and weak father.
"Every leukaemia-stricken family shares the same plight," said another father surnamed Liu.
"We would do anything, even donating our organs which could cause our own deaths, if it could save our children."
Wang Rupeng, secretary-general of CRCF, said the Angel Fund has raised more than 3 million yuan (US$375,000) from China and overseas. A total of 30 poor children have so far benefited from the fund.
"It's just a start," Wang said. "China has around 2 million children with leukaemia and most of them are from extremely poor families. Society needs to do more for these in need."
(China Daily March 8, 2006)