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Donations give boy new lease of life

By Yang Jun in Guiyang | China Daily | Updated: 2016-10-26 06:55

Public raises about 500,000 yuan ($73,787) to pay medical bills for an 11-year-old with leukemia

Donations give boy new lease of life

Shi Luyao, 11-year-old, used to travel 800 kilometers by himself to receive leukemia treatment. [Photo/People's Daily]

Shi Luyao, an 11-year-old boy from the southwestern province of Guizhou, no longer needs to travel 800 kilometers by himself to receive leukemia treatment in a neighboring province.

After his story was reported by media recently, donations have flooded in to help him. A hospital in Guizhou offered to treat him, and his medical bills can now be covered by donations.

Born in a village that is only accessible through mountain trails, Shi lived with his grandparents after his mother abandoned the poverty-stricken family when he was 2 years old.

Peng Jin, Shi's father, took him to the eastern province of Anhui when he was in the third grade at elementary school. Peng made a living working in a tile factory.

In 2013, Shi had what appeared to be a lingering fever, which led Peng to take him to see doctors at Kunming Children's Hospital in Yunnan province, a hospital renowned for leukemia treatment.

Shi was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a lethal blood disease which is the most common form of leukemia in children. Although doctors said he did not need a bone-marrow transplant, which is a common treatment for leukemia, Shi had to undergo chemotherapy and bone-marrow examinations to evaluate the effects of his treatment.

The treatment created a heavy financial burden on Peng, as Shi's insurance did little in terms of covering medical costs outside of his home province.

But Peng refused to give in, telling his son: "Don't give up. I'll do everything I can to save you." Peng borrowed 200,000 yuan ($30,000) and went back to Anhui to work to pay Shi's medical bills.

Without his father, Shi started traveling to Kunming with his grandmother for treatment. But when his grandmother began vomiting heavily from carsickness on their trips, Shi decided to travel alone to receive treatment.

To get from his home in Liupanshui city's Bengjing village to the hospital in Kunming, he had to take a bus to the train station in Liupanshui, where he boarded a train to Kunming, before taking another bus to the hospital.

Patients undergoing bone-marrow puncture treatment are usually required to lie down and rest for six hours afterward, but Shi would leave straight away to catch the return train.

To save money, he would spend the night at the Liupanshui train station until dawn, when he could catch a bus home.

Each trip would take at least two days, with Shi completing a dozen such journeys in the past year.

"I cannot remember how many times I've waited for sunrise at the train station," said Shi, before bursting into tears.

Yet, despite having leukemia and needing to embark on long trips to receive treatment, Shi continued his education at home and has managed to maintain top grades, saying that he wants to keep reading and studying to achieve higher grades.

According to his teachers, Shi has scored top grades in math tests for the past year, and consistently scored above 90 in Chinese tests.

"He looked a bit pale and lonely before, but his grades were surprisingly good," said Peng Lu, Shi's Chinese teacher.

To alleviate him of loneliness, teachers assigned him a few study buddies.

"My classmates like me, and we are happy to study together," Shi said.

With the help of local media, thousands of people have learned of Shi's story. People from all over the country are sending donations.

"We've received about 500,000 yuan in donations, and I'm speechless," Shi was quoted by China Youth Daily as saying. "I'll get cured of the disease and study hard."

With the aid of the Angel Mom Foundation, Shi will be transferred to the Affiliated Hospital of Guizhou Medical University.

"He will save time on traveling, as well as benefiting fully from his insurance policy now he is being treated in his home province," said a spokesman for the foundation.

His father said: "Luckily, we didn't give up, and because we didn't give up, we have this help from the world. I could never have imagined that so many people would be willing to help us, it's such a surprise."

"If we receive more donations after he is cured, I will give the money to others who are in need," he said, adding that they had already achieved their target.

Liang Shuang contributed to this story.

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