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WeChat appeal for support saves Tibetan newborn's life

Updated: 2015-02-25 07:28
By Xinhua in Lhasa (China Daily)

A baby girl born last month with a serious digestive disorder celebrated her first Tibetan New Year on Thursday after a charity appeal secured the operation needed to save her life.

Dianzin Gyezang, who was born on Jan 1, returned home to Lhasa, capital of the Tibet autonomous region, a week ago after being treated in neighboring Sichuan province for more than a month.

Dianzin Gyezang was diagnosed with esophageal atresia immediately after she was born by cesarean section at a maternity hospital in Lhasa. The condition causes the esophagus, which carries food from the mouth to the stomach, to fail to develop normally. In most cases, the upper esophagus ends without properly connecting to the stomach.

"In Lhasa, there's no hospital capable of performing the surgery," said Wang Bin, head of the hospital where Dianzin Gyezang was born. Early on Jan 4, as the baby's condition deteriorated, Wang shared a post appealing for help with his friends on the WeChat messaging service. The post was forwarded thousands of times within two hours.

There was a swift response, and later the same morning an Air China plane took Dianzin Gyezang to Chengdu, capital of Sichuan. Doctors at the People's Hospital of Sichuan reconnected the two ends of her esophagus for free.

The baby's plight attracted attention from both the media and the public. Her mother, a 36-year-old single domestic worker from a remote village in Xigaze, received donations from individuals and a local charity.

The Sichuan hospital halved the cost of the intensive care, which totaled more than 300,000 yuan ($48,900). The remaining half was covered by the Lhasa hospital and donations.

Dianzin Gyezang, who was also found to be suffering from a congenital heart disease, is now in stable condition, according to Jiang Zizhen, who employs the baby's mother.

Jiang accompanied Dianzin Gyezang to Chengdu as the mother was recovering from the C-section.

The baby is expected to lead a normal life after she receives surgery to correct the heart defect at the age of 4 or 5. A Beijing hospital has offered to perform the operation for free, according to Jiang.

Wang said the maternity hospital would make a donation of 1,000 yuan per month until Dianzin Gyezang reaches 18 to ease the financial burden on her mother.

Wang paid for the flight to Chengdu personally, and Jiang bought the return ticket.

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