Toddler survivor suffers mental trauma

Updated: 2011-07-29 07:48

(China Daily)

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HANGZHOU - A two-year-old girl who survived last Saturday's deadly train crash but lost her parents in the accident is suffering mental trauma, according to a psychologist.

"Little Yiyi often has nightmares and screams in the night, and often cries. Her emotions are very unstable," said psychologist Zhao Guoqiu after visiting Xiang Weiyi at the No 2 Hospital Attached to the Wenzhou Medical College.

Xiang's behavior is typical of people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, Zhao said.

However, he said that he has had difficulties in effectively diagnosing Xiang because of communication issues.

"The toddler can't understand adult language, obviously. I believe the best way to help her recover will be to ask her grandmother, with whom she is very close, to take care of her," he said.

A deadly train crash that occurred last Saturday near the city of Wenzhou, in East China's Zhejiang province, claimed the lives of Xiang's parents. Firefighters pulled her out of the wreckage about 21 hours after the accident, which left 39 people dead and 192 others injured.

Xiang remains in the hospital's intensive care unit, having suffered injuries to her lungs, liver and soft tissue, as well as circulation problems. Her physical condition stabilized after doctors successfully performed surgery on her left leg to improve her circulation.

Zhao said that Xiang should not be informed of her parents' deaths too quickly, as she is still in a vulnerable stage.

"The girl needs to learn about the meaning of death through games and storytelling before being given the news," he said, adding that he has urged people around her to refrain from mentioning anything regarding her parents' deaths or the accident itself.

Zhao has also urged Xiang's family and hospital caretakers to protect the girl from outside disturbances.

More than 200 people swarmed into the hospital's ICU on Monday to visit her and report on her story. Hospital staff have pledged to strictly control the number of visitors in the ICU to create a quiet environment for Xiang and the other patients.

Local health authorities have set up a special group to help Xiang recover from her psychological trauma.


(China Daily 07/29/2011 page4)