Donations from an unexpected source have provided fresh hope for a mother battling to save her son's life.
Fourteen-year-old Jiao Lifu was diagnosed with leukaemia when he was 3 years old, but since 2003 his condition has deteriorated seriously.
Doctors have warned that "long delays mean increased risks," words that ring in mother Tang Mingfang's ears.
"We've used all our savings to pay the medical bills, however it's not enough to alleviate our boy's pain," said Tang, a bank clerk in Badong County, a poverty-stricken part of central China's Hubei Province.
Jiao's father is a civil servant working in the local commission for development and reform. The couple's total monthly income is less than 2,000 yuan (US$250), and the family is heavily in debt due to high treatment costs that doctors have estimated will run to 300,000 yuan (US$37,500).
When 50,000 yuan (US$6,250) in anonymous donations arrived from a Bangladeshi student who volunteers at Jiao Lifu's hospital, Wuhan Union Hospital, Tang was understandably surprised.
"The money came just as I was about to give up," she told China Daily.
Mostak Ahamed Galib, an industrial and commercial administration major at Wuhan University of Technology, has also regularly volunteered at the hospital helping leukaemia patients since September 2002.
While he was doing his rounds he met Jiao Lifu and was so moved by the story he began raising money. He appealed for donations through the local media, and two months later he was able to hand the money over to Tang.
"I cannot just stand by and do nothing to save Jiao Lifu," Galib said.
"Even if my help is just a drop in the ocean, I won't regret it."
This is not the first time Galib, 23, has tried to help needy people in Wuhan.
His efforts have not been lost on the local government, who awarded him an "outstanding youth" medal, the first time a foreigner has received the award in the city.
According to Jin Runming, the doctor in charge of treating Jiao, it is amazing that the boy is still alive.
"He is quiet, smart and brave," the doctor said.
"You know miracles are at work because he still fighting for his life despite many relapses over the past three years," Jin added.
"The most effective way to cure him is to conduct a bone marrow transplant the boy cannot wait any longer," he warned.
Jin admitted the situation was regrettable. "If timely measures were taken in 2003 when his condition deteriorated for the first time, the boy could have been treated for a lot less," Jin said.
(China Daily July 14, 2006)