SARS survivors struggling for life in bone damage shadow
By Echo Shan (chinadaily.com.cn/CYD)
Updated: 2005-12-14 14:59
China Youth Daily
Pale-faced Dong Wei (alias), dressed in her baggy yet angelic
nurse uniform, passes by her busy colleagues with extraordinary care. She has
been working for only three hours per day since surviving the SARS nightmare two
years ago. Unfortunately the epidemic left her with bone damage as a side effect
of the high dosage of steroids she was treated with in toll-ticked 2003.
Dong was affected while tending to patients at a suburban hospital
designated for SARS treatment in Beijing, one of the major SARS-stricken cities
in China. She showed minor symptoms then during the medication.
However, her health took a turn for the worse after she left the specialty
hospital when unbearable pain struck the inside part of her right leg; doctors
soon diagnosed the pain as being caused by the bone damage.
"It was a bolt of lightning for me," recollects Dong Wei. "A tiny ray of
hope for life was relentlessly smashed up as I knew clearly what the bone damage
meant - a lifelong disability."
Dong's boyfriend of seven years, added salt to the wounds by dumping her --
bowing to the pressure from his parents. "I burst into tears in no time and I
hate him for his cowardice." said Dong, with exhaustion all over her face.
Afflicted by the lingering side effects of using steroid she even feels worn
out when doing nothing.
Once an energetic and vivacious young woman, Dong says she seldom thinks of
the future nowadays as all her hobbies and dreams such as traveling and studying
have faded away.
Dong Wei is not alone. Several of her former colleagues were also
stricken by the bone damage, and are now all struggling along in a hard life.
According to an October 17, 2003 report in the "South Metropolis Daily,"
nearly a third to half of all the Beijing medical staff infected with the deadly
virus during the SARS epidemic is now suffering from bone damage due to the
At least 80 per cent of those bone damage sufferers, without due and timely
treatment, would finally develop joint ailments associated
with ambulatory difficulty, said medical experts.
About 6,000 people on the Chinese mainland were afflicted with
SARS in 2003 with a toll of some 400.
The number of those who suffer bone damage after surviving the shocking
pandemic is not available to date.