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Girl recovers from suicide attempt in lead poisoning scandal
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A 19-year-old girl whose suicide attempt had escalated the protest against the lead poisoning scandal in northwest China's Shaanxi Province had recovered, doctors said Thursday.

Ma Jiaojiao, a student in Changqing Township in Fengxiang County, attempted to commit suicide by drinking pesticide Sunday after her request for a blood test was denied by her parents.

Doctors at the People's Hospital in Baoji City said Ma was recovering well and would be discharged from hospital before Monday.

Ma told Xinhua that she was tested and found to have 94.31 mg of lead per liter of blood. "I feel relieved knowing it is a normal level.

"I will cherish my life in the future," she said.

Her suicide attempt fueled residents' anger against the Dongling Lead and Zinc Smelting Co., whose heavy metal discharge has left 851 children ill. Hundreds of villagers broke into the smelter Monday to protest.

Ma asked her mother for money Sunday to get a blood test because she feared that she might be suffering from lead poisoning. Government-funded tests cover only children under 14.

There had been rumors that Ma attempted to kill herself after a test showed she had a lead level of 400 mg per liter of blood. "It is not true. I had not taken such tests before," Ma said.

The township government paid for the medical expense of 4,000 yuan (585.5 U.S. dollars) for Ma, according to her mother Ma Hongxia.

Amid widespread lead poisoning fears, Fengxiang county government has offered free blood tests for 1,016 children aged 14 and under from three villages of Changqing Township, 851 of whom were found to have excessive lead levels in their blood.

Of the total, 174 cases were considered serious and needed hospitalization.

Lead poisoning can damage the nervous system and cause various mental problems.

(Xinhua News Agency August 21, 2009)


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