China / Society

Pregnant woman saves toddler

By Shi Yingying in Shanghai (China Daily) Updated: 2012-06-11 01:46

A 27-year-old woman, six-and-a-half months pregnant with twins, is being hailed as a hero by some but reckless by others, after jumping into a 2-meter deep pond to save a neighbor's toddler from drowning.

Peng Weiping, from Anhui province, says she acted on instinct, when she jumped in to rescue 2-year-old Shen Mengya — an act made all the more remarkable when you consider that Peng can't swim herself.

Mother and unborn babies have been described as "stable", by doctors treating her in Lingbi County People's Hospital, who have ruled out the immediate risk of miscarriage, but have emphasized that potentially serious consequences could still exist for unborn babies at that stage of pregnancy.

Peng told China Daily by phone from her hospital bed: "I'm scared of water as I nearly drowned once when I was little.

"But it was so cold in the water that I feared Shen Mengya could die.

"Her face was pale and her lips turned blue with cold when I found her in the water, and she had little vital signs of life," said Peng, who saved the child on Tuesday.

Asked if she considered the safety of her unborn babies before jumping in to save the 2-year old, she added: "I had no time to think.

"I just took off my shoes, closed my eyes and jumped in."

Peng said she didn't even have time to think of calling for help.

"There were no other adults around me, only kids," she said.

Suo Huanshu, Shen Mengya's grandfather, told local media that adults in the village were busy harvesting wheat in the fields and there were only children nearby, playing next to the pond.

One was Peng Yi, Peng Weiping's nephew, who witnessed the drama unfold.

He told China Central Television that Peng Weiping couldn't get out of the pond herself after handing the girl to the crowd.

Peng Weiping was rushed to hospital, initially suffering from abdominal pain.

"A six-and-a-half-month pregnant women like Peng should take extra care even when walking, let alone jumping into the cold water to save a person," said Wang Weiling, a gynecologist from Lingbi County People's Hospital.

"It was very lucky that the babies are stable."

But despite ruling out the risk of miscarriage , Wang said that potentially serious consequences could still exist for a woman at that stage of her pregnancy by jumping into such cold water, "that could be life-threatening for both mother and the babies".

Peng's rescue, meanwhile, has sparked widespread debate about whether she did the right thing to threaten her own life and that of her unborn babies, to save another child's life.

Many mothers and mothers-to-be disagreed with Peng's behavior, while the majority hailed what she did as right.

"Peng was risking not only her own life, but also that of her babies'," said Wu Ning, a mother-to-be in Shanghai.

"Even thought what she did is selfless I wouldn't recommend it — just imagine how she would have felt if she had lost the babies.

"People have to think rationally about their own safety," Wu said.

"Carrying twins represents a higher risk than just one baby, so what she did increased the possibility of premature birth or miscarriage," said a gynecologist at Shanghai East International Medical Center, who disagreed with what she did on medical grounds, despite admiring her.

However, sociologists praised Peng's bravery more than anything else.

"It shows the brighter side of humanity," said Wang Jufen, a professor of women's studies at Fudan University.

"Whether the decision was bold, or right, or threatened her, then I think Peng didn't have time to think about ‘what's the rational thing to do?' — she followed her instinct."

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