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Another baby, solace for bereaved in quake zone
Updated: 2009-04-29 17:18

CHENGDU -- Li Yurong found herself much more clumsy in her fifth month of pregnancy, a drastic contrast with ten years ago, when she was expecting her first baby.

"I almost vomit every day, and have no strength to move," said the 37-year-old Li, while lightly rubbing her big tummy. Li, a farmer in the Hanwang town, Mianzhu city, in China's southwest Sichuan Province, lost her only daughter in the May 12 earthquake last year.

The death of her daughter Yang Danni drove the family into despair.

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Li and her husband decided to have a child to give their old parents consolation as well as an encouragement for the couple.

"It's all like a dream for me," said Li, whose is still coming to terms with the loss of her first daughter. She was considered to be "high risk" in pregnancy.

Li's family was one of more than 8,000 Sichuan families who lost their only child in the earthquake, which left more than 80,000 dead or missing.

Last May, the earthquake relief headquarters of the State Council, or the Chinese Cabinet, asked the quake-hit local government to give preferential consideration to families who lost their only children in the quake.

Sichuan legislators in July exempted families who lost their children in the earthquake from the country's one-child laws.

The rule, adopted by the standing committee of the provincial legislature, allowed a family who lost an only child, or in which the child was disabled, or a family with two children who were both disabled in the disaster, to have another child.

Since the quake, about 5,000 Sichuan couples had received free fertility treatment, said Wang Zaiyin, director of the provincial Population and Family Planning Commission.

In devastated Deyang City, 74 percent of parents of child-bearing age who lost their children considered having a child, according to the city's family planning authorities.

In Mianzhu City, about 872 bereaved families wished to have a child, while most of the couples are around 40 years old, said Kong Xiangqing, a doctor sent by Jiangsu Province to provide a free fertility service in Sichuan.

"Fertility treatment has become the most urgent need for women who lost their children in the quake, and want to have a baby," said Kong, adding that they have started to train doctors in the quake-hit areas on artificial fertility technology.

Sichuan Province has planned to spend 1.3 billion yuan (US$191 million) on fertility service for couples in quake-hit areas.

Li Yurong said that the local government gave her free medical check-ups and folic acid pills. Five women in her village became pregnant, said Li.

"My dearest wish is that the baby will be healthy," said Li.

The magnitude-8.0 quake that hit southwest China last May 12 killed more than 69,000 people. It also left nearly 18,000 missing, more than 374,000 injured and millions homeless.